TWO huge games in the ladies football championship this weekend as the top sides over many years clash.
Tonight St Val’s take on Inch Rovers in the senior B final and tomorrow Mourneabbey face West Cork in the senior A decider.
Reigning champions, Mourneabbey, are looking to make it seven titles in-a-row and will be up against the side they have beaten in the last two finals in West Cork.
These two clashed in the group stages in their first game back after lockdown restrictions were lifted, and Mourneabbey would be first to admit they were lucky to get a draw that night.
West Cork missed a number of chances to win and that draw, along with a win over Éire Óg saw the title holders straight through to the semi-final.
West Cork also defeated the Ovens side with the same outcome but it also meant they would avoid each other until the final, if they reached it.
Mourneabbey were far from impressive in the group stages and were if not for a brilliant display from Ellie Jack they could have been in a bit of trouble against Éire Óg as well.
She hit nine of their 15 points in a 0-15 to 0-10 win, one they secured in the last 10 minutes as they finished the stronger of the two sides.
At that point, anyone looking in from the outside might have been wondering were they up for the challenge again or was the appetite gone for the big games?
However a closer look would show they were missing a number of players through injury and some were not fully fit but played.
Amongst those out for the group games was Laura Fitzgerald and she announced her return by hitting 5-3 in the semi-final.
Sadly supporters didn’t get the chance to attend their semi-final win over Éire Óg but if they did then their attitude, commitment and desire to win question would have answered.
They were outstanding in a ruthless display as they came through that tie by 11-12 to 0-5. It was also the first time manager Shane Ronayne and his fellow selectors had a full squad to pick from and they were a far better side with all players available.
On that display in most counties they would be odds-on to retain their title, but this is Cork and in divisional side West Cork they have formidable opponents.
The array of talent they have available would probably see them saunter to the title in any other county and were it not for Mourneabbey they would have done so for the last number of years.
They would have been disappointed with the draw in the first group game and Éire Óg probably felt a bit of a backlash in the second group game as they won by 2-15 to 0-9 to set up a semi-final against Aghada.
And, like Mourneabbey, they showed they were in no mood for hanging around as they won by 9-15 to 1-9. And it was a case of anything Fitzgerald can do then Fiona Keating can match her as she too scored five goals in their win.
With the likes of Daire and Eimear Kiely, Melissa Duggan, Áine T O’Sullivan and Libby Coppinger to call on they are going to be formidable opponents for the champions.
Two years ago, it took a replay to separate them and expect it to be as tight tomorrow. For some of the panel, it will be their last game with West Cork as Martina O’Brien, Meabh O’Donovan and Moira Barrett will not be available to them next season.
They all play with Clonakilty who are now a senior side having won the intermediate championship last weekend. No doubt they will be determined to go out as champions and make it a good week for them adding a senior county medal to their intermediate one.
Tonight two of the powerhouses of Cork ladies football for many years clash in the B decider at Nemo Rangers. St Val’s and Inch Rovers have enjoyed their fair share of success at county and national level.
Inch showed they are not taking this championship lightly with a 6-10 to 2-9 win over Kinsale in the semi-final.
St Val’s got the better of Bride Rovers, by 1-11 to 1-5 in their semi.
TONIGHT: Ladies senior B final: St Val’s v Inch Rovers, Nemo Rangers, 8pm.
TOMMORROW: Ladies senior final: Mourneabbey v West, CIT, 5pm.
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