IT was a busy weekend for the Inniscarra senior camogie side.
On Saturday, they retained the county senior title, beating Glen Rovers in an entertaining final at Castle Road, with Joanne Casey’s two early goals played a key part in the victory.
Celebrations, such as they were, had to be kept brief, however, as they were back in action the following day, taking on the Clare champions, Inagh-Kilnamona.
Having beaten Douglas in a quarter-final replay the previous Sunday, Inniscarra then faced Milford in the county semi-final on Wednesday night, meaning that their weekend exertions added up to a tally of four games in eight days.
It’s hardly surprising that, even with home advantage in Ballyanly, and home advantage, they found it tough to rise themselves again and went down on a scoreline of 0-15 to 1-7 against the Banner opposition.
Beyond the bare facts, there is some context to be taken into account.
The championship had been delayed due to Cork’s exploits in the All-Ireland senior and intermediate championships, with the latter final, against Meath, having been drawn, throwing another unexpected element into the mix.
Obviously, the Douglas game was a replay and if the first game had produced a winner, then the semi-final would have been last weekend.
Even so, that would still have been three games in eight days and two in two, as the Munster Council didn’t allow any leeway.
The All-Ireland semi-finals are to be played at the end of January next year, with the provincial final set for November 11.
Surely we’re not the only ones to see that there is quite a bit of wiggle-room there to reschedule things rather than risking overload and burnout n players?
After the game, we spoke to Inniscarra manager Joe McCarthy and the legendary Rena Buckley, who had followed an All-Ireland-winning captaincy with the county win to cap a great year.
We also spoke to defeated Glen manager Tara Cunningham, who was full of praise for the winners but also acknowledged that a good year her young side had had and expressed the hope that they could learn from the experience in 2018.
It’s not our favourite part of the job by any manner of means, having to collar a manager when they’ve just been denied the thing they’ve worked for all year, but – without exception – they are always willing to give their time and assess how the game went the way it did.
To Tara, Paul Coakley of Éire Óg, Shane Ronayne of Mitchelstown, St Michael’s John Holly, Ray Keane of St Finbarr’s and Blackrock boss Fergal Ryan, we express our gratitude and hope that we can speak to them next year in happier circumstances.
One of the other victorious sides this weekend were Knocknagree, who claimed the county junior A football title, beating Erin’s Own in Páirc Uí Rinn in Sunday’s first game.
Having won a first Duhallow JAFC title in 24 years in 2015, they have gone on to claim a three-in-a-row of divisional championships.
While each of the two previous county championship tilts ended in disappointment, they bounced back and learned from the disappointing experiences, channelling them to good use.
In beating Erin’s Own, Knocknagree had the names of three local pubs – the Paps Bar, Sheehan’s and Dan Batty’s – on the front of their jerseys.
In modern times, sponsoring a set of jerseys is quite an undertaking for a local business, so to see a joined-up approach is refreshing.
The three pubs all benefit from being associated with the club and the club aren’t in the position of trying to coax the whole amount from one organisation, which might otherwise have proven difficult.
You can be sure that all three pubs went close to making their money back over the bank holiday weekend, if the size of the Knocknagree crowd at Páirc Uí Rinn on Sunday was anything to go by.
While there is an argument to be made that the lack of relegation has led to the senior and intermediate championships becoming bloated, there are more opportunities being given to clubs in the junior and you could see just it meant to the Knocknagree faithful.