THERE are only a couple of minutes remaining in the Cork junior B county final and Dohenys’ Catriona Moloney is thinking 'Oh Jesus, not again!'
One of West Cork’s most consistent scorers for over 15 years, Moloney had been there, done that. The experienced and ultra-consistent forward endured four county final defeats (three in three years) during a lengthy career.
Last October, Dohenys contested their fourth consecutive Cork ladies football county junior B decider on a wet and windy afternoon in Kilmichael.
Anchored by Cork senior Melissa Duggan and a posse of emerging talent from the club’s West Cork minor B championship winning squad, Catriona Moloney and her team-mates stared down Midleton.
A fourth county final loss in as many years would have spelled the end for a talented Dunmanway squad.
A tight game played out amid awful conditions and featured an intense battle between Cork seniors Duggan and Orlaith Farmer with Midleton leading 0-8 to 0-6 seven minutes from the end.
Enter Catriona Moloney who converted two consecutive frees to tie the score and reinvigorate Tony White’s side.
There was still time for rising minor star Mairead Crowley to kick the winning point and end years of Dohenys heartache.
Crowley rightly grabbed the headlines for her winning score but Catriona Moloney’s contribution of 0-5 saw one of Dohenys’ most experienced players finish another season as the club’s top scorer.
Yet, this time, Moloney was a county champion.
“I remember losing my first county final against Courcey Rovers a good few years ago now,” Catriona Moloney told the Echo.
“Brian McCarthy, who went on to coach West Cork, was in charge of us back then. We left that one after us and really should have won it to be honest. It was only when Tony White came on board that Dohenys came within touching distance of finally claiming a county.
“Unfortunately, we lost three finals in a row from 2015 to 2018, making it a total of four heart-breaking losses for me.
"The losses stayed with me a long time but that made the win over Midleton all the sweeter. We built up so much resolve over the years and I believe that was crucial to finally getting over the line.
“Everyone within the squad knew that we were capable of winning a county.
"In the end, getting over Midleton team was down to sheer heart and desire, as well as absolutely refusing to give in.
"I don’t know if the squad would have been able to come back from losing a fourth final in a row. I really don't.”
Working for Cork County Council and having recently transferred to the Bantry Fire Department, Catriona Moloney’s first day in her new role coincided with the country’s first day of an extended Covid-19 lockdown.
Moloney is doing her best to adjust to dealing with the day to day challenges of living through a pandemic.
Throughout it all, the experienced forward’s affection for her local club has been repaid with a lifetime of memories culminating in last year’s historic county final success.
“I have been playing for Dohenys since I was about seven- or eight-years-old,” Moloney noted.
“That’s roughly about 20 years playing football for my club. I must admit that there is a huge difference between when I first started out playing GAA and what we have nowadays. Ladies football was nowhere near as prominent as it is now.
"It was more of an afterthought and not taken seriously at all back then to be honest.
“Thankfully, there have been huge strides made since. The amount of people attending club games over the last number of years is brilliant to see.
"When I first began playing, you would have been lucky to get a handful of people there so that just shows how far ladies football has come.
“The other important thing is that the standard of football has improved during that time.
"There are so many good coaches out there right now and you can see it in the quality of players and teams across all the grades.
"I guess, ladies football is being taken a lot more seriously and while it may not be up to the men’s standard just yet, we are getting there.”