THE Cork ladies senior football championship kicks off tonight, with the big question being who can stop Mourneabbey?
Having won the Cork and Munster championships for the last six years you could excuse them for saying, been there done that at this stage.
They could also be excused for taking a ‘year out’ as neither the Munster or All-Ireland championships have been confirmed as going ahead.
Both may go ahead, but this has yet to be confirmed and with intercounty action starting in October the timeframe is tight.
But for the county champions, it’s all about personal pride and pride in their team-mates. Add in a management team, led by Shane Ronayne, who drives them on and they will be the team to beat again this season.
The long break will have suited them as they only finished up playing at the end of November when they retained their All-Ireland club title,
Having played right into December the year before, when they won it for the first time, it would have been two long years for the club players so the enforced break will have done them a lot of good.
But they will have to wait until next Tuesday to get going when they open their group games against West Cork.
The divisional side have lost the last two Cork finals to Mourneabbey and would love nothing better than getting on over on their old rivals.
They are not short of talented players and in the final two years ago took Mourneabbey to a replay before losing out.
From Martina O’Brien in goal, you can add in Emma Spillane, Melissa Duggan, Libby Coppinger, Aine O’Sullivan, and the Kiely twins, Eimear and Daire, to name just some of their squad.
They are going to be far from easy to beat and it has the potential to be a quality game. However, on the downside, they will be without Niamh Cotter this season who has transferred to Dublin side Kilmacud Crokes as she is studying at UCD.
On the opposite side, Mourneabbey are led by the O’Sullivan sisters, Meabh, Roisin’, Doireann and Ciara and there’s plenty more you can add in, including the likes of Eimear Meaney, Maire O’Callaghan, Ellie Jack and Brid O’Sullivan, who has captained them to two All-Ireland titles.
It’s highly likely the champions will be one of these two, but you can bet the others will be out to end their dominance.
Starting tonight with two tough games as Bride Rovers are at home to St Val’s and Inch Rovers will host Fermoy.
St Val’s and Inch Rovers, who won the Cork and Munster intermediate titles last year will be two sides to watch and certainly won’t be taking part just to make up the numbers. Both have been to the fore of Cork ladies football and are more than capable of beating anyone on the day.
They should get the ball rolling nicely tonight as the championship is back up and running. In the intermediate grade the grouping of Donoughmore, Bantry, Rosscarbery and Beara in Group B will have many looking forward to those games. In the other group Clonakilty and Glanmire will be favourites to advance.
Senior championship: Bride Rovers v St Val’s, 7.30pm, ref: P O’Leary. Inch Rovers v Fermoy, 7.30pm, ref: M Dullea.
Junior A championship: Dromtarriffe v Abhainn Dalla, 8.15pm, ref: D Hickey.
Intermediate championship: Beara v Rosscarbery, 6.30pm, ref: A McDermott. Glanmire v Araglen Desmonds Buí, 7pm, ref: K Creed.
Junior A championship: Naomh Aban v Valley Rovers, 7.30pm, ref: D Hickey. Douglas v Dohenys, 7.30pm, ref: C McTaggart.
Junior B championship: Midleton v O’Donovan Rossa, 6.45pm, ref: PJ Ahern.
Junior B championship: Bishopstown v Castlehaven, 11.30am, ref: AJ Cronin.
Junior C championship: Carrigaline v Erins Own, 7pm, ref: P O’Leary; Mallow v Tadhg MacCarthaigh, 8pm, ref: Hartnett; Nemo Rangers v St Peters, 7pm, ref: M Maher; St Colums v Bride Rovers, 3pm, ref: A McDermott.
Junior D championship: Fermoy v Gabriel Rangers/Muintir Bhaire, 3pm, ref: C McCarthy. Glanmire v Lisgoold, 7.30pm, ref: D O’Sullivan. Rockban v Passage, 3pm, ref: J Murphy.
TUESDAY, JULY 28
Senior championship: Mourneabbey v West Cork, 8pm, ref: J Murphy.
Junior D championship: Ballinora v Éire Óg, 7pm, ref: D McCarthy.