Fr O'Neill's Look Forward To New Camogie Challenges 

Fr O'Neill's Look Forward To New Camogie Challenges 

Fr. O'Neills players celebrate after defeating Aghabullogue in the SESystems Nano Nagle Cork intermediate championship camogie final at Castle road. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Fr O'Neill's camogie club are back in the big time this year as they return to the top grade of the game on Leeside with plenty of exciting challenges in both the senior league and championship on the horizon.

The East Cork side were crowned County Intermediate champions last autumn and began life in the top tier with a narrow 0-11 to 0-9 reversal against St Finbarr's at Aghavine on Sunday last.

The aforementioned county win over Aghabullogue saw For O'Neill's produce a performance brimful of character at Castle Road in really testing weather conditions. 

Now even bigger tests await with team manager Billy Harringtown hoping that his developing side can make an impression at the higher grade.

"We have trained well over the past four weeks, after we gave the squad a break following the loss in the Munster championship earlier this year. "They all came back in enthusiastic form and are really looking forward to playing at the highest level against the best teams.

"The feedback from the players is all positive. Younger players Grainne Finn and Grainne O'Neill have come through from juvenile ranks and this has further strengthened our panel."

After the narrow loss against St Finbarr's last Sunday, Fr O'Neill's travel to Enniskeane on Wednesday next for their first away fixture and then play host to Courcey Rovers on Sunday week. 

They conclude their group campaign with a game against Sarsfield's. At that point the management will have a greater barometer of their senior form line, not withstanding the fact that league games can be played when teams may be understrength for one reason or another.

This year will see O'Neill's line out without the experienced Kate Harrington who was at full forward last year, but is now residing in Ennis. Keelagh Cullinane who wore the number 11 jersey is also currently unavailable. 

Fr. O'Neills captain Ciara McGrath raises the trophy after defeating Aghabullogue in the SESystems Nano Nagle Cork intermediate championship camogie final at Castle road. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Fr. O'Neills captain Ciara McGrath raises the trophy after defeating Aghabullogue in the SESystems Nano Nagle Cork intermediate championship camogie final at Castle road. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

On the plus side Kayla O'Riordan is now fully fit and back in action and with the influx of the younger players in recent years, the panel is still in a very good place numbers wise. 

Significantly another new face has joined the camp in the shape of former Fr O'Neill's dual star Ray O'Neill who has also been very involved in the hurling backroom team previously. 

Ray will add a wealth of coaching experience to the fold. Alongside team manager Billy Harrington - Bridget Murphy, Carrie Higgins and Katie Ahern complete the management team.

Reflecting back six months on the County Intermediate win, Billy Harringtown says the occasion will always have a special place in the memory bank. 

"We got a fantastic reception back home from the people of the parish. The support the team got from different parts of East Cork was just brilliant.

"On the Sunday after the win, the team were at our local pitch and it was wonderful to see so many people turning up to congratulate them. 

"We have seen this before with the great wins by the hurlers but this time the scenes were the same for the camogie team," commented a very proud bainisteoir.

As for Billy's match day recollections - "We tried to build up an advantage and make the most of the wind early on as the forecast was due to worsen as the day went on. 

"The game plan went well, as we got the goals in the first half and made the necessary adjustments that we had in mind during the game. 

"In the second half, the team showed remarkable character to dig in defensively as Aghabullogue, who had some really good players, came back at us strongly."

And looking ahead - what are the hopes and ambitions to follow that memorable year of 2021?

"We plan to take every game as it comes and work really hard as we did last year. 

"The girls are very positive - I've no doubt that they will compete well this year. I think the team is moving forward at the right time as we had no retirements. 

Mary Newman the Echo presents the 'player of the final' trophy to Fr. O'Neills Yvonne Murphy after defeating Aghabullogue in the SESystems Nano Nagle Cork intermediate championship camogie final at Castle road. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Mary Newman the Echo presents the 'player of the final' trophy to Fr. O'Neills Yvonne Murphy after defeating Aghabullogue in the SESystems Nano Nagle Cork intermediate championship camogie final at Castle road. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

"In our build up to the latter stages of last year's Cork championship, we played a number of challenge games against senior teams from outside of the county and we acquitted ourselves very well. 

"Whilst mindful of the step up in pace, I'd be confident that we can continue that trend here in Cork during the summer ahead.

"Another positive about last year was that the players who came up from minor really blended into our set up and the same is happening in the early weeks this year," concluded Billy Harrington.

Overall, busy days ahead on the playing fields for Fr O'Neill's not only at adult level, but also in the very active juvenile sector.

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