JJ DEASY and his young Cork panel are gearing up for another tilt at the All-Ireland U14 LGFA title following last year’s heartbreaking loss to Kerry.
It remains the best and most entertaining match, adult or underage, male or female, this reporter covered during 2022.
Cork and Kerry met in the All-Ireland U14 Platinum (top grade) LGFA final at Páirc Uí Rinn in late May. A scorching hot afternoon, large attendance and two supremely talented teams delivered an instant classic.
Roared on by their respective sets of supporters, Cork and Kerry’s U14s went toe-to-toe for over and hour and extra time before the Kingdom edged the result 5-12 to 5-10. Naoise O’Donoghue’s late goal (the Kerry star finished with 2-2) won it for Kerry in the dying embers, simultaneously breaking Cork players’ and supporters’ hearts.
Despite that gut-wrenching loss, there was much for Cork manager JJ Deasy and his backroom team to be proud of. Not least the development of each player selected on the Rebel’s U14 panel following a lengthy trial period that involved hundreds of schoolgirls from all over the county.
Now, in 2023, JJ Deasy is back at the helm with a fresh backroom team and new Cork panel as the Rebels go in search of U14 LGFA provincial and national glory.
Joining the Ibane Ladies club man on the Cork U14 side-line for the upcoming campaign are Ioannis O’Connell (Glanmire, head coach), Miriam O’Connell (Dripsey, mentor), Bernadette Sheehan (Rockbán, mentor), Sean Ryan (Glanmire, mentor/statistics), and Karen Casey (Banteer, female liaison officer).
“We were gutted immediately after that All-Ireland final with Kerry,” JJ Deasy admitted. “Everyone on the Cork side-line knew the game was a little bit special that day. You could hear the reaction of the crowd to both teams’ efforts.
“We were delighted to have been a part of it but disappointed Cork didn’t get over the line in the end. In fairness, Kerry had as fabulous a team as we had last year. For their age, both sides gave a superb exhibition of football. Days like those are why ladies football is growing at such a rate.
“It was fantastic to be a part of that final. Obviously, it would have been nice if Cork had won it but, look, you live and learn.”
Looking ahead, Cork’s 2023 Munster U14 LGFA dates are yet to be confirmed. Stage one of the provincial blitz series should be completed in March and stage two the following month, along with each of the U14 age-grade’s Munster finals.
In terms of the 2023 All-Ireland U14 LGFA series, stage one is scheduled to be completed by May 6. The All-Ireland quarter-finals are pencilled in for May 13, All-Ireland semi-finals on May 27 and the U14 grade’s All-Ireland finals on Saturday, June 10.
“This is our second year with the Cork LGFA U14s so we have more confidence about what we are doing and how we are going about things, definitely,” Deasy added.
“Last year we played a round-robin format in Munster before taking part in the blitz series once we got to the All-Ireland stage. The Munster U14 championship is changing to a blitz format for the coming year.
"That means Cork uses anything between 25 or 26 players every time we tog out. Everyone on the panel gets ample game time which is the most important thing at this age grade.”
Amy McCarthy (Castlehaven), Anna Kelleher (Kinsale), Ava Coughlan (Aghada), Caoimhe Foley (Courcey Rovers), Carla O’Regan (Ilen Rovers), Ciara O’Regan (Inch Rovers), Cliona Harte (Ibane ladies), Doireann O’Flaherty (Mallow), Ellen Motherway (Carrigaline), Ellie Lee (Aghada), Fiona O’Connell (Carrigaline), Gemma O’Sullivan (Rosscarbery ladies), Hannah Deasy (Kinsale), Hayleigh O’Shea (Macroom), Hayley Sweeney (Delaney’s/St Vincent’s), Katie Crowley (Courcey Rovers), Katie Hanrahan (Rockbán), Lily Foskin (Bishopstown), Louise Buckley McKernan (St Colman’s), Maeve Buckley (Ballincollig LGFA), Matilda Ní Luanaigh (Naomh Abán), Orlaith McGrath (Glanmire), Orna Higgins (Glanmire), Robyn O’Mahony (Carrigaline), Róisín Ní Liatháin (Naomh Abán), Sarah Galvin (Éire Óg), Sile Walsh (Bishopstown), Sophie Duggan (Glanmire), Sorcha O’Rourke (Inch Rovers), Tamara Moynihan (Ballincollig LGFA).