Linda Mellerick: Courceys and Inniscarra will serve up a camogie classic

Linda Mellerick: Courceys and Inniscarra will serve up a camogie classic

Inniscarra captain Katie O'Mahony and vice-captain Aoife Kavanagh after their victory over St Finbarr's in the SE Systems Cork Senior Camogie Championship semi-final at Castle Road. Picture: Denis Minihane.

IT CERTAINLY is hard to call tomorrow’s SE Systems senior county camogie final between Inniscarra and Courcey Rovers.

It’s a repeat of 2018 where Inniscarra won their three in a row, 1-13 to 0-5, but one gets the feeling that it will be a different Rovers that take to the pitch this time around.

They are a stronger team with more purpose and confidence alongside a hard-working ethic.

But of course, they face one of the dominant forces in club senior camogie for the past eight years.

Inniscarra’s first title in 2016 came after three seasons of heart-breaking defeats to Milford. They lost the 2013 quarter-final, the 2014 final and the 2015 semi-final to the North Cork side.

Finally, they broke Milford’s control in a pulsating 2016 final and it’s been a great run since. Three in a row of titles and losing out narrowly to Sarsfields in last year’s decider.

During the past eight years, Inniscarra have had more than their fair share of injuries and to key players.

They also lost players such as Joanne Casey to work and travel. Yet they continued to produce and win titles. And it is to their great credit that they contest their fifth final in a row tomorrow.

Inniscarra haven’t been firing on all cylinders this season yet they are still in the final and they didn’t have the easiest of passages having to face Glen Rovers and St Finbarr’s in the quarter and semi-finals respectively.

Inniscarra know how to win, they have the experience of holding onto a lead despite ferocious pressure and on the flip side, pulling big games out of the fire. They have tremendous battling qualities and often win games at the death.

Twice the Glen came back at Inniscarra when the job looked done. Things weren’t going Inniscarra’s way against the Barrs.

They are typically very good at starting games well and hit four points before the Barrs had caught their breath.

But from there on it was St Finbarr’s that looked the side most likely to advance to their first final in 12 years.

But with eight minutes to go Inniscarra’s Ellen Murphy got the all-important goal and from there Inniscarra drove on. The Barrs didn’t know what hit them.

I’ve been very impressed with Courcey’s this season. You can go through every line and pick out players that impress.

The attacking section for Rovers contains Linda Collins, Saoirse McCarthy, Fiona Keating and Christine O’Neill who has really enthralled.

Inniscarra have a very dependable defence with an attacking half-back line. If this game opens up Rovers will be hoping to capitalise on their speed. A tighter game will suit Inniscarra more.

You have the threat of Claudia Keane, Ellen Murphy and Joanne Casey up front for Inniscarra as their main threat.

Treasa McCarthy won’t be found wanting either. Casey picked up a rib injury earlier in the campaign and went off at half time in the semi-final only to be re-introduced on forty-eight minutes and play a decisive role in closing out the game.

Claudia Keane is extremely strong and difficult to stop as she bursts down the middle. At times last week, Inniscarra took too much out of the ball, running into cúl de sacs and dropping harmless balls into the Barrs keeper’s hands which she cleared comfortably.

They can’t afford to waste possession like that tomorrow.

Defensively Ashling Moloney has been a standout performer for Rovers. Ciara Hayes and Edel Moloney haven’t been far behind her.

Add in captain Karyn Keohane, Grainne Hannon and Orla Twomey and you have a really strong defence. Moloney may well pick up Claudia Keane, Ciara Hayes on Ellen Murphy.

Joanne may go into full forward where she caused endless problems against St Finbarr’s after coming back on.

She’s sure to figure at some stage in Inniscarra’s full-forward line. Rovers may leave their capable full-back line to cope with that rather than start switching things around.

Midfield as always will play an important role. Here Katie O’Mahony rarely has an equal and that’s something Rovers will be mindful of.

Douglas' Pamela Mackey flicks the ball away from Courcey Rovers' Fiona Keating. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Douglas' Pamela Mackey flicks the ball away from Courcey Rovers' Fiona Keating. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

They’ll need a big return from Jacinta Crowley in that department.

Rena Buckley picked up Linda Collins in the 2018 final and had a storming game.

As the game progressed supply was limited going into Linda and she had to drift deep to try and see some action and that suited Inniscarra down to the ground.

I’m sure Rena will do the same again. Linda is a stronger player two years down the line so it’s a challenge for both players and that’s what whets the appetite.

Will Inniscarra regain the title they narrowly lost to Sarsfields in 2019 or will they suffer another final defeat as Courcey Rovers win their first?

Often games don’t reach the heights you expect of them. That won’t be the case tomorrow.

This will be epic and it’s too close to call. A draw maybe? Who knows.

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