GAA dynasties don’t come much stronger than the O’Sullivan sisters from Mourneabbey.
All four girls, Roisin, Ciara, Doireann and Meabh, played a vital role on the field to see Mourneabbey crowned All Ireland Ladies Senior Club football champion at the start of December.
That was made even sweeter as it was the club’s fourth attempt in as many years.
Celebrations continued when Roisin, the eldest of the four, got married on December 21, to Kevin Coffey, himself a well known Oliver Plunkett’s Player.
The couple, both accountants, work together at KPMG. The wedding was a ‘who’s who’ of Cork GAA as between them the sisters have all lined out for Cork (Ciara and Doireann in 2018) as well as UCC.
Naturally, Roisin had her three sisters as her bridesmaids, all dressed in a festive red.
Further strengthening their GAA credentials, Doireann is also in a relationship with Cork football captain Ian Maguire, who won a county title last year with the Barrs.
This was disclosed teasingly by Ciara, who seemed to be the ‘spokesperson’ when I caught up with them by phone in the run up to the wedding.
There was some remonstration by her younger sis, but all in good fun, and it’s more than obvious that the girls are the best of friends. The older two have the same group of pals, as do the younger two; and Ciara and Roisin (or Ro’ as they call her) lived together for around six years.
Getting all four together on what was a busy week of pre-wedding appointments required surprisingly little coordination — perhaps indicative of their discipline and organisation that’s surely part of their DNA after a lifetime playing team sport. They’ve been playing with Cork since under 14 level.
And maybe that’s why they insist, despite being a busy household of four girls, that they weren’t too wild growing up.
Their parents, Jerry, a plumber, and Ina, an accountant, have always been very involved in the club, which explains their daughters’ natural involvement.
Ina was former chairperson and is still involved; Jerry was the trainer when Ciara and Roisin were on the team that took the Junior All Ireland title in 2005 and the Intermediate title in 2007 and he now trains underage.
December’s win, they all agree, was their most special, both as a team and as sisters, and very emotional, with Ciara pointing out that Doireann “bawled on live TV”.
Explaining herself, Doireann jumped in: “We had been training so hard for five years to this end and when the final whistle went, the relief was just huge; it was all the emotion of the past few years.”
It was agreed that Doireann would also be the most likely to shed a tear on Roisin’s wedding day!
Roisin won’t honeymoon until March when herself and Kevin will go to South Africa and the Maldives. Not surprisingly, their lives revolve completely around their training and matches, with squad training at least three times a week. But it’s not something they begrudge or regard as a burden of any kind, having grown up with it, and with so many of their cousins and friends living the same lifestyle.
All city-based, Ciara says there is rarely an occasion they make the 30 minute journey to training alone.
“There’s a group of us who travel together so that makes it much easier.”
They are marvelous ambassadors for females in sport, although PE teacher Doireann says there’s still a lot to be done to encourage involvement.
“In first year, participation is very good in PE; but by senior cycle more than 50% of girls don’t participate for a variety of reasons.”
A lot of them, she said, cite their Leaving Cert as an excuse, but she said they all continued to train through their exams and really felt the benefits of it.
For now, they’re enjoying their time off before it’s back to training in January. Meabh is making the most of off season by skiing in Andorra for the New Year with a group of 20 — and yes, most of them are involved in the GAA, either through UCC or Mourneabbey. She joked: “Our trainers aren’t too happy in case someone breaks something.”
The sisters don’t seem lonely at the idea of Roisin ‘leaving’ them. And they all agree that it helps being with someone who understands that football will always be a priority.
“She landed on her feet with Kevin,” jokes Ciara.
And vice versa — the O’Sullivans really are a class sister-act.
MEET THE O’SULLIVAN SISTERS
Roisin, aged 29, an accountant with KPMG, just married to Kevin Coffey, living in the Half Way.
Ciara, aged 28, an accountant with Musgrave, living in Deerpark.
Doireann, aged 23, secondary teacher Youghal (PE and Irish), in a relationship with Ian Maguire, Cork football captain, living in Wilton.
Meabh, aged 22, final year of Commerce UCC, living in Glasheen.
TITLES — WHAT THE GIRLS HAVE BETWEEN THEM All-Ireland Ladies Senior Club title this year Five Senior County titles Five Munster Senior titles Junior All-Ireland title Intermediate All-Ireland title All-Ireland medals for Cork: Ciara, 8; Roisin, 8; Doireann, 5; Meabh, 2.