Mourneabbey fly the Cork flag as Inch, Haven and Valleys lose out

Munster disappointment for all bar the senior champions from Leeside
Mourneabbey fly the Cork flag as Inch, Haven and Valleys lose out

A close-range effort by Noelle O'Donovan, Inch Rovers is stopped by an excellent save from goalkeeper Amy Murphy, Rathmore. Picture: Larry Cummins.

MOURNEABBEY are the exception to the rule when it comes to reviewing Cork LGFA success in this season’s Munster competitions.

Shane Ronayne’s all-conquering side made it seven Munster senior A titles in a row following victory over Tipperary’s Aherlow this past weekend.

Awful weather conditions couldn’t deter Mourneabbey from defending their provincial title on a weekend Inch Rovers kicked eleven wides in their Munster senior B final loss at the hands of Rathmore  the Friday before. It was a heart-breaking loss for Noel O’Connor’s side, going down 1-9 to 0-11, with Danielle O’Leary kicking the winning point late in an evenly-fought encounter.

Both Cork representatives fell at the semi-final hurdle in this year’s provincial intermediate and junior championships.

Despite home advantage, Valley Rovers struggled to build on a terrific display away to Burren Gaels in the Munster IFC quarter-finals. A tough away assignment in county Clare saw Denis Kiely’s charges come through a physical encounter to register a 1-9 to 0-9 victory. 

Unfortunately, Rovers were unable to replicate that success in the last four. Monagea, a senior club from Limerick, travelled to Brinny and took advantage of a poor Valley’s start to record a 2-8 to 0-9 win.

Rovers’ inability to reproduce their usual counter-attacking style coupled with a team still recovering from their exertions in overcoming Burren Gaels meant the Limerick side emerged deserving winners.

It was another case of what might have been for a Cork club that took this year’s intermediate grade by storm and secured the 2021 county championship. The step up from junior to intermediate appears much tougher at Munster level however, as Valleys manager Denis Kiely alluded to shortly after exiting the provincial championship on their home turf.

“Our progression over the last number of years has been terrific but you have got to be realistic as well,” Kiley stated.

“The junior and intermediate grades in Cork are very similar. When you do come up against a senior team in Munster, irrespective of what county they are from, they are always a good team. 

"Like we did against Monagea in the intermediate semi-finals. We have a bit of soul-searching to do before next year because we are now up playing senior football.

“Look, it is late in the season and everyone is tired. The players put an awful lot in this year but sometimes you either win or you learn. We didn’t win against Monagea but we learned a lot.” 

Castlehaven was a Cork LGFA club that enjoyed a fourth county championship success in five years during the past year. Having previously annexed the junior D, C and B titles, the Haven outlasted fellow west Cork club Dohenys to claim a 2021 junior A crown on 30-metre free-kicks.

Carrying their momentum into Munster, Castlehaven easily defeated Waterford’s St. Anne’s 4-15 to 1-3 thanks to Grainne O’Sullivan (2), Shelly Daly and Eilis Bohane goals.

Similar to Valley Rovers, and on the same Brinny ground as part of a provincial semi-final double-header, the Haven came unstuck against Mullinahone in the last four. There was little between the sides heading into injury-time where a late Lorraine O’Shea goal edged the result in the Tipperary side’s favour.

Castlehaven are not used to losing within the county bounds having won four of the last five county championships they have contested. 

The Haven’s players were visibly upset at missing out on a Munster final appearance, especially in a game they had every chance of winning until the latter stages. That loss represented another important step in the team’s evolution. Castlehaven’s 2021 provincial campaign, albeit unsuccessful, should stand to the west Cork club at intermediate level next year.

“The level of opposition you encounter when you reach a Munster semi-final shows what Castlehaven needs to aspire to,” team selector John McGuckin stated.

“Everyone on the panel is really looking forward to the challenge of playing intermediate next year. One thing that I noticed after our county final, I stayed on and watched a bit of the county senior B final. The difference in physicality was apparent straight away.

“We know we have work to do on that over the winter months and will have them prepared. The talent is there in Castlehaven, there is no doubt about that. The honesty and work rate from the girls is always going to be there. It is just stepping it up to that next level and getting that bit of physicality for the coming season.”

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