Mourneabbey just never got going but they will be back

Ger McCarthy reflects on All-Ireland final disappointment for the Cork champions
Mourneabbey just never got going but they will be back

Kilkerrin-Clonberne's Olivia Divilly and Eimear Meaney of Mourneabbey. Picture: INPHO/Lorraine O’Sullivan

THE Galway and Connacht champions were deserving winners over Mourneabbey in the All-Ireland final.

Willie Ward’s side came with a plan to shut down their opponents’ attack and achieved that. Few, if any teams, hold Mourneabbey to a single point from play but that’s what Kilkerrin-Clonberne achieved during a 1-11 to 1-7 victory in St Brendan’s Park.

The full-back line was immense. Aisling Costello did a fantastic marking job on Laura Fitzgerald with Sara Gormally and Chloe Costello equally impressive. The half-back line of Siobhán Fahy, Nicola Ward and Claire Dunleavy played superbly, joining the attack whenever an opportunity arose and supporting midfielders Siobhán Divilly and Hannah Noone. Critically, Kilkerrin-Clonberne won 10 of their 14 kick-outs (71%) and starved Mourneabbey’s forwards. A lot of credit must to go their goalkeeper Lisa Murphy for that.

They also won the attritional battle in the middle third. Up front, Olivia Divilly did superbly on meagre possession and was ably assisted by Louise Ward. The moment that summed up why Kilkerrin-Clonberne are such a great team and deserved to leave Birr with their first-ever All-Ireland senior club title arrived after 23 minutes. A sweeping move ended with Chloe Miskell hitting the net. The goal was pure, cutthroat execution in the face of a tough-tackling defence.

There is little doubt that this victory represents a massive boost for Galway LGFA. The outpouring of emotion from the team and supporters immediately after the final whistle underlines that point.

What of the runners-up? As ever, Shane Ronayne was magnanimous but admitted his team never got going. The Cork and Mourneabbey manager mentioned during the build-up they could have done with a stiffer challenge before facing the Galway champions. Kilkerrin-Clonberne got over Ulster’s Donaghmoyne following a tough battle, 2-8 to 0-8, while Mourneabbey blew away Dunboyne 6-17 to 0-5.

Despite never settling into their usual rhythm, or being allowed to, Mourneabbey underlined their quality by coming within the width of a crossbar and a missed open goal of turning things around.

That’s the mark of a successful team, one that can hang in there. 

CLOSE CALLS

Mourneabbey will look back on Róisín O’Sullivan’s chipped effort that flew inches past an upright with the goal gaping in the opening half. They can recall Ciara O’Sullivan’s thunderous shot that cannoned back off the crossbar, as well as other goal-scoring opportunities early in the second half.

Yet, Mourneabbey cannot deny that they lost to the better team on the day. Eimear Meaney was excellent at full-back but too often had to deal with Kilkerrin-Clonberne overlaps.

They never gained a foothold in midfield either. Whenever Mourneabbey did move the ball into the final third, they met a red wall of defenders unwilling to yield.

Doireann and Ciara O’Sullivan ran themselves into the ground. Laura Fitzgerald converted her penalty on a day. The corner-forward, who had netted 10 times en route to the final, rarely escaped the shackles of Costello.

This was as tough and physical an All-Ireland final, as it was expected to be. There is a lot of respect between the clubs but no quarter given.

Shane Ronayne and a number of Mourneabbey players must now turn their attention towards Cork’s upcoming National League campaign. Hopefully, they will return for another attempt at claiming All-Ireland club glory too before the year is out.

Mourneabbey have given us so many brilliant memories. For now, all the plaudits must to go Kilkerrin-Clonberne.

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