Linda Mellerick: Split season led to a great camogie championship in Cork

Courcey Rovers landed the big prize after a thrilling campaign
Linda Mellerick: Split season led to a great camogie championship in Cork

Best seat in the house as residents on Castle Road watch Glen Rovers and Sarsfields. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

I THINK it’s fair to say that every GAA player across all codes thoroughly enjoyed the split club and inter-county season this year and if there are any positive at all to come out of the year that was 2020 it was that Covid-19 forced organisations down that path. 

Next year will take on the same format in hurling and football with county first this time around. While there are draft camogie fixtures circulating showing no split season there is nothing official on that front yet so we’ll hold our counsel until we are officially informed. 

I hope we too continue to have a split season. Maybe to run our championships in reverse format to the men would be a good option from a pitch availability and viewership point of view. 

Camogie clubs have been pushed to the back with an excess of inter-county fixtures over the past number of years and that needs to change. 

You could see the enjoyment inter-county players got from fully committing to their clubs and I thought we had a much better 2020 championship for it. 

Courcey Rovers' Saoirse McCarthy is tackled by Douglas' Mairead Mulrooney. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Courcey Rovers' Saoirse McCarthy is tackled by Douglas' Mairead Mulrooney. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

In addition, all players knew well in advance when their games were being played. Clubs were aware that all games would go to extra time, except for the semi-finals and finals. 

All games had to finish on the day which meant we didn’t have fixtures piling up. 

And Castle Road is such a magnificent pitch that it coped very well with the battering it got week-in and week-out. 

It was also great to have the games played in summer weather. Of course, on the flip side of that inter-county players got the short straw of the seasons for their championship.

Once again we have new county champions in Courcey Rovers. 

 Courcey Rovers celebrate at the final whistle after winning the Cork senior camogie title at Castle Road. Picture: Jim Coughlan.
Courcey Rovers celebrate at the final whistle after winning the Cork senior camogie title at Castle Road. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

From the start, they impressed and were thoroughly deserving of the title. You sometimes need a bit of luck to get over the line in championship games but Courceys didn’t need it. They had strong wins in all games.

Some clubs got an extra game in round four and that was a benefit before heading into a quarter-final. 

For the likes of Éire Óg recently back competing at senior level they would have welcomed the games. As it turned out they went from an opening-round win straight to a quarter-final, where to their credit, they did well against Douglas. 

Newcestown in their first year senior had three good games. A heavy first round defeat to Killeagh gave them a backdoor path where they enjoyed a strong victory over Imokilly before losing in round four to champions Courcey Rovers. All in all, they’ll be happy with how their first season played out for them.

2019 champions Sarsfields seemed to struggle from the outset in 2020. They had an opening round defeat to Glen Rovers and while defeating Cloughduv in the losers round lost out to Douglas after extra time in round four. 

Sarsfields' Ciara Irwin wins the ball from Douglas' Rebecca Sheehan. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Sarsfields' Ciara Irwin wins the ball from Douglas' Rebecca Sheehan. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Emer Fennell was a huge loss, not only for her strength and scoring prowess but for her leadership qualities and Sars need a spread of those qualities in 2021 to take another title.

Inniscarra didn’t hit the form of recent years in any of their games and that’s no surprise. A lot of that team are on the go since their first senior championship title win in 2010 and the bite was gone. 

Niamh McCarthy was a big loss but come final day I don’t think there was anything going to stop Rovers from taking their first title. 

Courcey Rovers' Linda Collins wins the ball. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Courcey Rovers' Linda Collins wins the ball. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

There is still plenty of a backbone in the Inniscarra squad to come again where they’ll need an injection of four or five strong underage players to come through.

Glen Rovers will be disappointed with their performance against Inniscarra in the quarter-final while St Finbarr's were oh so close to reaching their first final since 2008. They need more scoring forwards to do so.

2021 is a new season which we look forward to it with any number of clubs again capable of taking the Punch Cup home.

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