I’M SURE Courcey Rovers had a tremendous night around Ballinspittle and Ballinadee last Sunday evening.
And well-deserved it was after a resounding county final victory over Inniscarra.
A four-goal victory mirrored the goal-scoring spree that Rovers offered up throughout the campaign, hitting 15-65 from five games giving an average 3-13 a game.
When you’re hitting the net with that consistency it’s hard to be stopped. Inniscarra matched Rovers’ 12-point tally but couldn’t match the goals.
When Inniscarra endeavoured to come back at the champions after half time with two quick points, Fiona Keating’s goal wiped out their efforts.
That’s a real demoralising blow. Keating was outstanding and won the Player of the Match accolade.
It could just as easily have been Linda Collins who is a joy to watch with her deft pick-ups, speed and clinical scoring. But a hat-trick of goals in a county final just pipped it.
Linda finished up with 1-5 and while it was Saoirse McCarthy rightly got credited with Courceys' second goal just on the half time whistle after her long delivery, it was Linda’s run into the square which caused the distraction to allow the ball drop into the net.
After a hesitant start where Inniscarra looked so impressive hitting five points on the trot, it raised a few eyebrows as Rovers were struggling all over the field. But one moment of great play started their scoring and from there they were just awesome. From a short puck-out, Rovers played it through the lines and with just four or five touches Linda hit Courceys' first score on 14 minutes.
Their short inter-play and support off the shoulder was at times as good as you’ll see and it’s obvious a lot of work went into that during the year. There was also accurate long-distance striking with wonderful point-scoring. Saoirse McCarthy gave some great deliveries in once she drifted further out the field alongside Jacinta Crowley who was very influential in getting Rovers back into the game.
It was a great game, particularly the first half which was fast and flowing, thanks to referee Cathal McAllister. We had eight frees by half time and while we had more in the second it aided a great spectacle. The players were let at it and that’s how it should be.
Defensively Rovers have been excellent all year. They conceded 6-38. Ashling Moloney is a tremendous leader at centre-back. Captain Karyn Keohane, Grainne Hannon, Edel Moloney, Ciara Hayes and Orla Twomey who slotted in well from their opening round all had great seasons. Often keepers get overlooked but Sinead O’Reilly gives her back six confidence as she made another couple of fine saves.
It seems as if Courceys have only recently made their mark but they’ve been playing senior for 21 years and credit Karyn for mentioning those players that have gone before in her victory speech. Players such as Sarah Hayes and Rachel Moloney played big roles with Sarah having only retired post the 2018 campaign.
It was such a different county final to two years ago when Rovers didn’t hit the heights they had promised all year but Inniscarra too were still in their prime.
Two years later Inniscarra looked tired and who would blame them. That team has been on the road for the past ten seasons. They won their first county title back in 2010.
Obviously, there’s been players in and out during the past decade but a large core remained and it’s a long time. It is to their credit that they have remained at the top for so long. They reached the All-Ireland club final from that 2010 county win, they lost in 2011 to Douglas and St Catherine’s in 2012 both at the semi-final stage.
They lost the 2013 quarter-final, the 2014 final and the 2015 semi-final all to Milford before finally breaking Milford’s control in a pulsating 2016 final and it’s been a great run since, winning three titles in a row 2016-2018 and reaching the last five finals.
That’s a great record. But all great teams come to an end. It may be the end for a number of the current team but there will be plenty of experience remaining and with the good structure that Inniscarra have at underage hopefully they’ll still be strongly competing.
Unlike many clubs that focus so much on a great senior team and don’t place such as strong an emphasis on underage, Inniscarra haven’t done that so they certainly won’t be out in the wilderness and well done to them for that.
I also want to mention Niamh McCarthy who was a big loss to Inniscarra and we wish her well with her operation and rehabilitation over the coming months.
Courcey’s looked such a mature side in the final. They have grown so much in two seasons and when you’re young that can happen rapidly. I’d imagine the average age of the team to be early 20s so they can have a big say over the coming years if they look after themselves. Well done to Mike Boland, Kevin Hannon, Joey Gallagher, Shirley Moloney, Mark Enright, Mark ‘Fanta’ O’Sullivan, Nuala O’Reilly, Rebecca Crowley and Sean Duggan.
Of course, celebrations will have ceased after Sunday as Rover’s face Inagh Kilnamona in the Munster semi-final tomorrow and we wish them the very best of luck as they represent Cork.