LAST year Mourneabbey senior ladies football captain Bríd O’Sullivan created her own little bit of history.
She became the first player from the club to lift the All-Ireland senior club championship cup and it’s something she is determined to repeat next Saturday against Kilkerrin/Clonberne at the Gaelic Grounds in Limerick.
The former Cork player lines out at centre-forward and is a key player in their attack, where her ability to win primary possession is crucial.
She may not get on the scoring sheet as much as the likes of Ciara and Doireann O’Sullivan or Noelle Healy, but they would be the first to point out the vital role Bríd plays, being instrumental in setting up their scoring chances.
Like all involved, she is looking forward to the final and is delighted they have the chance to defend their title.
“The Cork campaign was really tough at times and games were a lot closer than some of the scorelines reflect,” she said.
“Last year we had two really tough games against West Cork in the final and then the replay of the final.
“But we got a dream start this year and in comparison to 2018 it wasn’t as close but they are a great team and there are plenty of quality teams in the Cork championship. You couldn’t write any of them off and West Cork, along with the likes of Val’s, Éire Óg as well are tough to beat. Conditions were desperate for our semi-final game against Val’s and it didn’t reflect what either side were capable of.
“It was virtually impossible to play any sort of decent football and it was the type of game that could have gone either way, and one we were just delighted to come through.
“When we sit down at the start of every year our first aim is to win the Cork championship but we are also determined to move on to the Munster final and then hopefully the All-Ireland series after that.
“The Munster final was a really tough game, but we knew that it was going to be. In 2018 we were down by five points against Ballymacarbry but managed to turn it around to win.”
Experience counts for a lot in the depths of winter.
“I think that any team that has been together as a group like we have over the last six years helps you know how we all think and play and it has built up a great team spirit and determination to give it everything for each other.
“That has fed through to the younger players that have joined the squad in that time and there is a great bond between the squad and it certainly has helped us in a number of games over the years.
“It has even fed through to people watching in the stand and afterwards, talking to some of them, they were saying that even when things weren’t looking great they were never worried.
“I can’t say I was feeling the same on the pitch, but it’s a great sign of the character that is there that we managed to come out on top and retain that title as well.”
Their bench played a big part that day.
“I think the standard of club football is not too far off inter-county standard at this stage. You can’t just rely on the 15 players that start any more — subs have a huge impact on games and that has been the case for us.
“The likes of Ellie Jack, Anna Ryan, and Ashling Cronin came on in the All-Ireland semi-final against Donaghmoyne and they really drove us over the line.”
Home advantage also helped, she said.
“Supporters had come out in numbers to get behind us and in fairness to the committee, they had the place looking as if we were playing at Croke Park. The pitch was immaculate and they had everything organised so they made it so easy for us to just concentrate on the game.”
Looking to the final, Brid said she wasn’t surprised to see Kilkerrin/ Clonberne come through. “We played them up in Galway last year in the semi-final and it was a right battle. They are a young team overall that is getting more and more experienced every year and tie in the fact that a number of them are inter-county players with Galway, shows just how good they are.
“We certainly won’t be underestimating them in any way and they will come into the game confident in their own ability to win it.
“When we won last year the overwhelming feeling was one of relief that we had finally won, but this year we are determined and hungry to make it a two in-a-row and to put back-to-back titles together would be unbelievable."