MEAT LOAF never told us how well one out of three ranked.
At the weekend, three Cork sides were in action in All-Ireland ladies’ football club finals – Mourneabbey at senior level, Kinsale in intermediate and Aghada at junior level – and, unfortunately, only the latter emerged victorious, beating Monaghan’s Corduff by 2-6 to 0-3.
Mayo and Carnacon legend Cora Staunton got the perfect send-off before she departs to start a professional career with Greater Western Sydney Giants as they won a sixth club title since 2002 in Parnell Park, in the process condemning Mourneabbey to a third final defeat in four years.
Earlier on Sunday, Kinsale had gone down by just a point against Meath’s Dunboyne. Like Mourneabbey, national final defeat is not a new experience for them, having lost out to St Maur’s of Dublin in last year’s junior decider.
The consolation, such as it is, is that a team can only get to an All-Ireland club final by first winning their county title and then following that with provincial glory, so by no means can it be considered a failure to be second best in the whole country.
Perhaps it is one sour note at the end of a sweet year, but, as we have seen, both Mourneabbey and Kinsale have been able to positively channel their defeats already. The desire to win an All-Ireland has kept Mourneabbey coming back and has led to a dynasty being established in Cork, with the club having claimed the last four county championships.
It’s something of a quirk that, during the period in which Cork won 11 of 12 All-Ireland ladies’ titles from 2005-16 inclusive, only once – in 2010, when Inch Rovers beat Carnacon – did a club from the county claim the top prize.
Inch’s story will hopefully provide inspiration to Mourneabbey as their win came after two final defeats. We certainly wouldn’t have any fears about their ability to bounce back, not with a manager as astute as Shane Ronayne driving the ship.
Neither would one be too concerned that Kinsale will descend into an irreversible spiral. Having gone down against St Maur’s, they faced into an intermediate campaign this year and made light of the step up in grade, stringing back-to-back counties together and then going on to claim another Munster.
Their manager Micheál O’Connor said ahead of last weekend that, at the start of the year, he hadn’t considered getting to another All-Ireland, but that it underlined the character of his team.
“I was thinking that it’d be hard to win the county, looking at some of the teams,” he said.
“There were a couple after coming down from senior, and then Rosscarbery had lost the 2016 final to Bantry by a couple of points, we knew they would be a serious team again.
“You take Beara too, who had a couple of West Cork senior players on their team. If you had told me at the start of the year that we’d win the county, I’d have been happy, but in fairness to the girls, getting to the All-Ireland and playing those extra games, hard games, stood to them.”
One would think that this loss will also be something to drive them on when they mix it with at the top grade in 2018, and it’s not far-fetched to think that Orla Finn will have some colleagues joining her on Ephie Fitzgerald’s Cork panel.
And, Kinsale’s trajectory will be something for Aghada to look to emulate – they’ll think that there’s no reason why they shouldn’t after they came out on top in Crettyard, Co. Laois on Saturday.
Emma Farmer scored five points with Clare Walsh and Christine Moran getting the goals as the East Cork side emerged victorious with Roisín Phelan putting in excellent performance.
The confidence gained from that win will ensure that they are not going to be taken lightly by any of their potential opponents at intermediate in the coming year.
All three clubs can be congratulated for excellent years, and the Cork football scene also deserves praise for producing teams capable of making it to the finals. What’s the betting that, in a year’s time, we’re talking about more All-Ireland club champions?