THEY may have fallen at the All-Ireland semi-final hurdle but Kinsale Community School’s Lidl Munster Ladies Football title and qualification for the last four in the country means 2020 has been a success.
Teachers Mairead Dullea (Bantry Blues) and Sinead O’Brien (Rosscarbery Ladies) guided Kinsale CS to Munster PPS glory this past year. Unfortunately, Connacht champions and Leitrim school St Clare’s CS Manorhamilton proved too strong in the All-Ireland semi-final and brought an end to Kinsale’s marvellous run.
Looking after such a large squad with players drawn from numerous clubs, involved in other sports and preparing for secondary school exams was far from straightforward. Yet, Dullea and O’Brien managed to keep Kinsale CS going and guided the Cork school through the early provincial rounds before defeating Mercy Mounthawk Tralee courtesy of a last-minute goal to claim the Munster title.
“It was difficult, I won’t lie,” Mairead Dullea told the Echo.
“Sinead (O’Brien) plays for Rosscarbery so between the two of us we know all about the ins and outs of football. A lot of the girls were playing with the school’s basketball team and they enjoyed great success by winning an All-Ireland title this year. We trained whenever we could. We tried to fit it all in and some of the girls had exams over the past number of weeks as well.
“It was just trying to get the balance right and not tire the girls out too much with everything else that was going on. At the end of the day, what we do is supposed to be enjoyable, so we worked hard to make sure that the players peaked at the right time.
“At the start of the year, all we were looking at was the girls fulfilling their potential. There is massive talent within the Kinsale CS squad and that’s down to their respective clubs. We have great players and a lot of them have experience of playing football or camogie with Cork. So, we just went out to win every game.
“Starting in late October, I know it is a cliché, but we just took every game as it came. Winning a Munster PPS title was the highlight of the season. Getting to the final alone was exceptional and it took a last-minute goal to win that final for us in the end.”
That late winner was scored by in-form Cork and Courcey Rovers’ Fiona Keating. The forward’s ability to find the net proved crucial to Kinsale CS’ provincial success but it took the entire squad’s best efforts to lift the Lidl LGFA Munster trophy.
“Fiona Keating is an exceptional talent, but you could see that coming through as far back as first year,” LGFA referee and Bantry Blues player Mairead Dullea commented.
“She was lucky enough to get the last-minute goal to win that Munster PPS final for us. Fiona wouldn’t have been in that position without the hard work of the people around her to get the ball into her to score all those important goals and points in the first place.
“Fiona is an exceptional finisher and a massive talent. It is up to other girls who look up to her to fill her boots as, unfortunately, this was Fiona’s last year with us.
“It will be the younger players, the second and third years that were lucky enough to experience an All-Ireland semi-final, that the school turns to next. They were lucky enough to be there and to see the likes of Fiona Keating and all our other players in action. It is up to them to carry that mantle now.”
Kinsale CS’s ascent to the summit of the provincial PPS ladder has coincided with a surge of interest in ladies football throughout the county. The Kinsale school has a larger number of players to choose from nowadays unlike previous years when Kinsale and Courcey Rovers were the only sources of GAA talent.
“There has been massive growth in Ladies football in recent years,” Mairead Dullea said.
“We have massive numbers in our school, so it is just trying to tap into that talent. As I said, it is great to now see other clubs besides the two main ones, Kinsale and Courcey Rovers, associated with ladies football improving around our region.
“It is just about growing that interest. A lot of our girls have had exposure to the West Cork Development squads between U15 and U17 too.
“It is all the effort and commitment around the West Cork region that is feeding into our school’s success as well.
“We have always fielded football teams in Kinsale CS. The structure changed a couple of years ago but we have always competed at senior and Munster level.
“This year was the first time that we have enjoyed success. Club-wise, we have players that have experienced success with the likes of Kinsale, Courcey Rovers, Ballygarvan and Clonakilty.
“There is a strong sporting tradition within the school and that’s supported by the management and my fellow colleagues.
“It has always been there, and we cater for a lot of sports so it is just trying to get the best out of the girls that we have in the future years.”
KINSALE: Ellen Maguire; Clare O’Dwyer, Lorainne Collins (C), Lily Fay; Ava Mulhall, Rose Marie Buckley, Meadhbh Hurley; Orlagh O’Mahony, Grace O’Reilly; Geraldine Tyner, Faye Ahern, Kate Redmond; Anne Marie Collins, Charlotte Galvin, Fiona Keating, Dara Tyner, Eva Egan, Emma Casey, Ali McGinn, Caoimhe Heffernan, Jeanne Murphy, Isobel Bergin, Aisling Hurley and Rachel O’Brien.
We have massive numbers in our school, so it is just trying to tap into that talent