BRIDE ROVERS are firmly established in the Cork LGFA senior ranks and looking to make their mark in the 2021 championship.
Rovers played their first adult ladies football match back in 2003. Despite losing to Éire Óg on that historic occasion, the Rathcormac club has gone from strength to strength during the intervening years.
Rovers were mightily unfortunate to miss out on a place in the last four of the 2020 SFC, only a year after winning the county B trophy.
Getting their campaign off to the best possible start, Bride overcame St Val’s 4-9 to 2-11 with Grace Culloty and Katie Quirke contributing 2-1 apiece.
A 3-13 to 2-9 loss at the hands of Kinsale saw those two clubs and St Val’s finish level on points in Group B of the senior championship.
Heartbreakingly, Bride lost out on a senior A quarter-final berth on points difference. The club they beat in the previous year’s county B final, Kinsale, and St Val’s went through instead.
It was a tough pill to swallow for a Bride team that finished their qualifying group with a score difference of -3 (36 points scored, 39 conceded) compared to Kinsale’s plus 3 (35 points scored, 32 conceded) and St Val’s (34 points scored, 34 conceded).
A 5-10 to 2-14 victory over Fermoy in the last eight of the senior B championship set up another meeting with St Val’s in the semi-finals. Alas, it was the latter who came out on top by six points to dethrone the champions. Inch Rovers would go on to defeat Val’s in the senior B county decider.
“We beat Kinsale in a cracking game to win the 2019 county senior B title,” Bride Rovers’ Alan Murphy told the Echo.
“The girls were bitterly disappointed not to retain their senior B title last year but looking back, it was a very fragmented season because of Covid.
"The biggest disappointment was not being able to stay within four points of Kinsale in our final group game. Had we managed that, we would have reached a county A semi-final instead.
“To be honest, we just didn’t perform to the best of our abilities that night or against St Val’s the second day out either.
“It was also the end of a three-year term for Conor Buckley and Pat Culloty.
Clearly, last year didn’t pan out as Bride Rovers LGFA would have wished.
Yet, the club’s players and management’s determination to kick on in the 2021 senior championship is clear.
“There is massive motivation within the club for the coming year,” Murphy added. “Shane O’Connor and I are still involved but we have brought in three new selectors as well a new coach, Tipperary man Ed Burke.
"He would have previously been involved with the Tipp senior ladies management team alongside Shane Roynane over the past four seasons. It was quite a coup for us to get Ed and we are delighted to have him on board.
"He would have started engaging with our players back in January. It was nothing too taxing as we don’t know when the senior club championship will start.
"Our players are delighted with Ed’s contribution and have enjoyed engaging with him.
“As well as being a brilliant coach, Ed is also a terrific motivator. That’s the thing I believe Bride needs the most ahead of the coming year.
"There is no doubting the ability of the players on our panel. We just need to get the right mindset when it comes to playing in the senior A championship.
“There is a wealth of talent coming through our underage ranks as well which is hugely encouraging for the future.
"That’s why it is incumbent on us to keep moving forward and not be content with where we are.
"Bride Rovers is gone beyond the stage of holding on to our senior status. We want to be performing at a consistently high level in the A championship.”
Alan Murphy’s point is a fair one considering the talented blend of youth and experience in Rovers senior panel.
This is a club that has become accustomed to reaching the business end of championships over the past couple of seasons. 2021 should be no different.