Cork ladies football clubs must wait until summer for 2020 Munster series

Mourneabbey, Valley Rovers and Clonakilty will fly the Rebel flag
Cork ladies football clubs must wait until summer for 2020 Munster series

Roisin O'Sullivan, Mourneabbey, battling Eve Murphy, West Cork, in last season's Cork Ladies Football, Senior A final. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

CORK representatives Mourneabbey, Valley Rovers and Clonakilty’s Munster LGFA championship semi-finals will take place at the end of June.

All three clubs are in the same boat as their opponents, having reached the latter stages of the provincial competition only for Covid-19 to intervene.

Each of Cork’s representatives were gearing up for rearranged semi-final assignments when the first of two lockdowns ended any chance of competitive football being played for the foreseeable future.

Thankfully, all three Munster football competition’s penultimate rounds have been pencilled in for late June with provincial finals tentatively scheduled for the first week in July.

Mourneabbey finished runners-up to West Cork in the 2020 senior club championship and are understandably eager to begin the defence of their Munster and All-Ireland titles.

Shane Roynane’s side will have to overcome Tipperary champions Cahir after the latter’s sensational defeat of the Banner (Clare). A marvellous Munster senior quarter-final ended 4-16 to 4-15 in Cahir’s favour after extra-time. Whoever emerges from the Cahir and Mourneabbey encounter will face either Ballmacarbry (Waterford) or Rathmore (Kerry) in the decider.

Despite failing to retain the county championship, Mourneabbey remain the team to beat at LGFA senior club level. The All-Ireland champions will not have it easy but, led by Doireann O’Sullivan, should still have enough experience to retain their provincial trophy.

Valley Rovers enjoyed a marvellous year by winning the Cork junior A championship and reaching the last four in Munster. Perennially one of the most open of Cork LGFA’s tournaments, Valley’s produced a string of impressive displays before seeing off Douglas in the decider.

The newly crowned champions had little time to bask in the glow of their achievement before making the long journey to Dungarvan for a Munster JAFC quarter-final against Tramore.

Awful weather conditions made for a difficult afternoon in which Rovers changed ends 0-4 to 0-1 ahead. It took the intervention of Cork senior duo Daire and Eimear Kiely, Michelle O’Regan, Cliona Reardon and Lucy Callanan to help guide Valley’s to a convincing 5-7 to 0-4 victory.

 Katie Lynch, Valley Rovers, in action against Aoife Kelleher, Douglas. Picture: Jim Coughlan.
Katie Lynch, Valley Rovers, in action against Aoife Kelleher, Douglas. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

That outcome setup a Munster semi-final away to Limerick’s Dromcollogher-Broadford. The latter should provide Valley Rovers with their stiffest test with five inter-county players in their squad.

A fully-fit Valley’s panel is likely to make their presence felt in this year’s Cork LGFA intermediate championship and have nothing to lose from their trip to Limerick. A Munster final appearance would be ample reward for an up and coming Rovers team.

Clonakilty’s ascension to the top of the county’s intermediate grade was a surprising one in 2020. Yet, the West Cork club were full value for their county final win over Glanmire and subsequent promotion to the Cork LGFA senior ranks.

A Covid-affected season meant the entire Clonakilty squad was at manager JJ Deasy and his backroom team’s disposal.

Qualification for the Munster intermediate quarter-finals represented a welcome bonus for a team including experienced Cork inter-county goalkeeper Martina O’Brien. Yet, the core of Clon’s success was down to a group of emerging youngsters including Orlaith Deasy, Millie Condon, Katie O’Driscoll and Meabh O’Donovan.

The West Cork club put their intermediate championship-winning experience to good use for the visit of Finuge-St Senan’s in the last eight of the Munster IFC.

The Kerry champions brought a full-strength team, including Louise Galvin, to Ahamilla for what turned out to be a physical quarter-final. Four yellow cards and one late sending off didn’t detract from an otherwise thrilling contest in which Clonakilty’s ability to find the net proved the difference.

Cork City FC U17 player Orlaith Deasy carried her county championship form into Munster by scoring 1-2 of her side’s winning total of 3-6. Additional Ciara Ryan, Aine O’Leary, Ciara Deasy and Kiya O’Mahony scores saw off Finuge-St Senan’s challenge.

Clonakilty will take on Limerick club St Ailbes in the provincial semi-finals. St Ailbes will contain three players that featured in the Limerick senior inter-county panel this past year, Caroline Hickey, Katie Heelan and Louise Ryan.

Similar to Mourneabbey and Valley Rovers, Clonakilty have nothing to lose in the two remaining rounds of the Munster IFC and the ability to go all the way.

June and July may seem a long way away but Cork’s three representatives in the Munster senior, intermediate and junior championships each has a decent opportunity to claim provincial silverware.

FIXTURES:

Munster LGFA semi-finals: Junior - June 28, Intermediate - June 29, Senior - June 30.

Munster LGFA finals: Junior - July 6, Intermediate and Senior – July 7.

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