Cork's Katie Quirke is delighted to be back in action after injury

May 18, 2024

Katie Quirke of Cork ©INPHO/Natasha Barton

By Daire Walsh

Following a frustrating spell on the sidelines, Bride Rovers footballer Katie Quirke is glad to be back in the saddle as Cork set their sights on collecting a third consecutive TG4 Munster Senior Championship title against Kerry in Mallow this afternoon. 

After amassing an impressive haul of 1-16 across the opening three rounds of the Leesiders’ Lidl National Football League Division 1 campaign, Quirke subsequently picked up a knee injury while lining out for her college UCC in February. 

In addition to missing the remainder of the NFL and UCC’s march to the final of the HEC O’Connor Cup, it was initially feared Quirke wouldn’t be available again for Cork until the start of the TG4 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship. 

Yet she had regained fitness in time to register five points in their opening round Munster championship win over Waterford at Fraher Field on April 20. While she sat out a later loss at the hands of Kerry in Brosna, she posted 0-8 in Mallow a fortnight ago as Cork squeezed past Tipperary to set up today’s reunion with the Kingdom at the same venue. 

“I was told originally it was going to be the 12 weeks and that would have been all going well without any set-backs. To be fair, I’ve been very lucky. The physios have been very good to me and the doctors as well. I haven’t had a set-back and touch wood that won’t happen either,” Quirke said. 

“It was pushed right up to the max and I had only trained one or two times before that Waterford game. It was just seeing how it would go and how I was feeling after that. It was just minding it. 

“It was nice to be back and even get one or two games in because as we know, how you get on in Munster has such a big part to play in the All-Ireland series. To try to do as well as we could. It was definitely one I was going to try to do my best to come back for.” 

Quirke’s presence was certainly missed during the final four rounds of Cork’s springtime campaign as the Rebelettes suffered relegation to Division 2 of the NFL for 2025. She admitted this was a difficult period from not just a personal point of view, but also from that of the squad itself. 

“I did find it tough the first few weeks. You’d be going to training and having to sit out and watch everyone. It was really frustrating and to add on top of that, the league didn’t really go our way either. It did add an extra bit onto that. I tried my best to get back as soon as I could. It was tough and hopefully now I’m towards the end of that.” 

When the Munster championship returned in 2022 following a three-year hiatus (brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic), Cork emerged on top of the pile courtesy of a 2-11 to 1-9 triumph over Kerry at Fitzgerald Stadium in Killarney. Quirke appeared as a substitute in that game, before scoring a goal from full-forward 12 months later when the Leesiders retained their provincial crown with another victory against the Kingdom in Mallow. 

However, whereas Cork fell to quarter-final and semi-final exits in 2022 and 2023 respectively, Kerry have reached back-to-back TG4 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship deciders in the past two seasons. While Shane Ronayne’s charges will take solace from the fact they are the current holders of the Munster crown, Quirke is conscious of the challenge that awaits them later today. 

“We know what kind of a team Kerry are. When we have the last two Munster finals, it is a bit of encouragement going into it, but we’re under no illusions. They’ve had such a flying year so far and to get their three wins out of Munster, we know it’s going to be such a tough battle.” 

Although a large bulk of them have stepped away from the inter-county scene over the past few years, Quirke (who recently finished her final exam as a nutritional science student in UCC) had experienced players all around her when she first joined the Cork senior panel in 2020. 

For their Brendan Martin Cup showpiece defeat to Dublin behind closed doors at Croke Park in December of that year, she was part of a 30-strong match day panel that featured no fewer than 15 All-Ireland winners. 

“I remember still going into my first training, it was so daunting seeing them all. Such huge successes and such huge careers behind them. You’re just trying to row onto the back of them and to learn as much as you can. I think we were all just in awe of them and taken in under their wing,” Quirke recalled of her debut season. 

“You learn their attitudes from them and the drive that they have. The passion that they have. That is what you needed to take you through. It is something that you feed off of. If you hang around long enough, it starts to rub off on you. It was so encouraging.” 

A year before joining the senior panel, Quirke had scored 1-7 in a player of the match display as the Rebelettes defeated Monaghan to claim an All-Ireland Minor ‘A’ Championship title. 

Despite acknowledging that stepping up to the senior grade isn’t always easy, Quirke believes the recent success enjoyed by underage Cork teams (they also secured minor honours in 2022) indicates there are still plenty of players that are capable of being long-term replacements for the players who have moved on since the county's last All-Ireland senior final appearance in 2020. 

“I think every year there’s a few girls coming up from minor. To be fair, there has been good success in Cork. Those girls coming in and trying to make the transition into senior, it is so tough. Even myself, it was only in the last year or two that I feel like I’ve found my feet a bit,” Quirke added. 

“Having that win behind you and that little platform just to get up from minor, you get that taste for success. It makes such a difference. You kind of get a taste for it and you just want to keep winning after that.” 

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