MANAGER Frankie Arundel believes one of West Cork LGFA’s most rural clubs Muintir Bháire has the brightest of futures.
Punching above their weight is a cliché thrown around sporting circles far too often.
Yet, Muintir Bháire continues to field U12, U14, U16 and minor teams in LGFA competitions despite being based in a sparsely populated area.
A peninsula club, Muintir Bháire caters for players drawn from, Durrus, Kilcrohane and Ahakista, some of West Cork’s most rural regions.
Against those odds, Muintir Bháire not only continue to excel but underlined the quality of their emerging talent by qualifying for this year’s Cork LGFA U16 D3 county final.
Despite losing 3-3 to 0-4 to Ballycastle amid awful conditions, a young Muintir Bháire team did their region and club proud.
Held on Bishopstown GAA’s 4G pitch, Frankie Arundel, Kate Arundel and Tadhg O’Sullivan’s young side showed why Muintir Bháire possesses a bright future amongst the LGFA’s youngest ranks.
“Even though we lost, it was still a great experience for the girls to come up and play a county final,” Frankie Arundel commented.
“Ballycastle were physically bigger and stronger than us but that’s understandable as we have much more of an age variant and lots of younger girls making up our panel.
“Take Robyn Macri, one of our best players in that final, for example. Robyn is still very young but played outstandingly well. To put it into perspective, there will be only three of the current Muintir Bháire U16 team moving up to minor next year.
“So the girls and the club will take huge encouragement from their county final experience. The girls gave it absolutely everything and that’s why everyone is so proud of them.”
Reaching a U16 D3 decider was just reward for a Muintir Bháire team with only 16 players togged out on county final day. Whilst playing numbers remain tight, the rural side out in a commendable effort before coming up short to deserving champions Ballycastle.
“Conditions were very hard and it felt like we faced the wind in both halves for some reason!” Arundel added.
“We hadn’t played on a 4G pitch until the county final but the girls, even though they found it tough at the start, got better as the game went on.
“Ballycastle got three goals in the first half, the first one a free that went in under the crossbar. Another one was from a penalty. Those goals won it for Ballycastle because it was a really close game all the way through.
“It was one of those days whenever the ball hit off a post it rebounded to one of their players rather than one of ours. Goals win those types of games, especially in those awful conditions, a swirling wind and driving rain.
“Looking back, there were times we could have carried the ball into the tackle a bit more. All we were missing was that bit of experience on the day.
It has been something of a whirlwind end to an unexpectedly positive season for the rural club’s Under16 ladies footballers.
Despite losing out in their county final appearance to Ballycastle, the benefits of experiencing such an important match will far outweigh the actual result.
“Being exposed to a little bit of the ‘big time’, a county final and all that goes with it, will have done the girls the world of good,” Frankie Arundel concluded.
“Seeing that tricolour coming into the ground, the facilities, a handy crowd from both clubs and that bit of razzmatazz is something special for a sixteen-year-old girl who wouldn’t have experienced that before.
“The plan is to keep these girls playing football up through the ranks. That’s the hope. There is a great spirit within the group and a bigger picture for us in reality.
“Large towns like in West Cork like Clonakilty, for example, it is about winning at underage LGFA level. Whereas for Muintir Bháire, it is all about survival.
“As for 2023, we have decisions to make about minor but we should still have a strong U16 team backed up by strong U12 and U14 teams as well.”
Aoibhinn Arundel, Anna McAuliffe, Niamh Wiseman (c), Robyn Macri, Alaina O’Brien, Ella O’Donovan, Ava O’Brien, Sophie O’Sullivan, Karen Dukelow, Jasmine Ellis, Chloe Hegarty, Holly Arundel, Abha O’Sullivan, Aoibhe O’Mahony, Molly O’Sullivan, Clodagh Ring, Abbie Arundel, Ellen O’Donovan and Ruby Farrelly.