Nazareth, half-way and the crèche in Mourneabbey

BRÍD O’Sullivan admits that she was “wary” of taking over as Mourneabbey captain from Roisín O’Sullivan.

After all, her predecessor as skipper with the Cork and Munster champions, who’s no relation, had helped to steer the club to two successive county and provincial crowns.

But Bríd has emulated that feat during her two years in the role, and she could go on to become the first Mourneabbey captain in the club’s history to lift an All-Ireland senior crown.

There’s plenty of work ahead before that dream becomes a reality, however, as Mourneabbey must first overcome the challenge Dublin’s Foxrock-Cabinteely in this afternoon’s semi-final at Bray Emmets.

If they come through that, it’s Cora Staunton’s Carnacon or Tyrone surprise packets St Macartan’s on December 3.

O’Sullivan says: “I took over from Roisín and I was a bit wary of taking over her role, she’s such an established player.

“The captain is a title but there are so many of the older girls that I get the pleasure and privilege of lifting trophies for.”

O’Sullivan smiles when she describes the hierarchy in the Mourneabbey set-up, from an age perspective.

She explains: “The older ones are called ‘Nazareth’ – there’s a nursing home in Mallow called Nazareth. There’s a group of us that call ourselves half-way and the ‘crèche’, the younger ones.”

At 24 years of age, O’Sullivan’s already crammed plenty into her career, reaching the pinnacle with the Cork seniors while also captaining the U21s to Aisling McGing U21 glory in 2013.

There’s one box that’s yet to be ticked, however, as Mourneabbey suffered All-Ireland final defeats in 2014 and 2015, and a semi-final loss to winners Donaghmoyne last year.

But O’Sullivan says that manager Shane Ronayne’s energy in the wake of an TG4 All-Ireland intermediate victory with Tipperary is rubbing off on the Mourneabbey players.

O’Sullivan added: “Yeah, he’s definitely brought some of that enthusiasm and confidence from Tipp into Mourneabbey.

“We’ve been concentrating on ourselves rather than the team we’re playing – and that’s something he did a lot with Tipp.

“He’s brought that into Mourneabbey and it has worked for us so far this year.

“He’s an excellent manager and I don’t think he gets the credit he deserves, sometimes.”

Ronayne has previous experience of working with Fox-Cab back in 2005, when it was a fledgling club.

And with both sides having won All-Ireland junior titles during meteoric rises to the top, it’s likely that not much will separate them today.

O’Sullivan agrees: “In the way we play, we probably are quite similar teams as well, with lots of players who can carry and run with the ball. It will be interesting to see how that plays out.”

And she reflects: “We probably had an abrupt end to the season with Cork, we didn’t want it to be over as soon as it was but on the other side of things, it gave us the chance to spend more time playing with the club.

“Because there are seven or eight of us playing with Cork, having those not training is a substantial number for a small club like Mourneabbey.

“But having them back training did benefit us coming up to the county final and Munster final.”

With four left in the running for All-Ireland glory, it’s difficult to predict a winner.

And O’Sullivan acknowledges: “It’s completely open this year – and of the four teams left have the ability to win it.

“But we’re trying not to look past Saturday – and there’s a big 60 minutes ahead of us.

“They have loads of experience of getting to this stage, and with plenty of inter-county players who have won underage and senior titles with Dublin. We’re two well-matched teams.”

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