Three Cork teams in All-Ireland Semis.

Ladies Football

Three Cork teams in All-Ireland Semis.
By Fr. Liam Kelleher.

The strength of Cork Ladies football at club level is
very much in evidence this year. For the 2nd time in 3 seasons,
Cork have made a clean sweep of the Munster club titles.
Two years ago, Donoughmore, Senior and Rockbán junior went
on to clinch National Honours, while St Vals were knocked
out at the Semi-Final stage. This year Donoughmore are back
again and are bidding to regain the title they won for the
first time against Ballyboden/St Enda’s at Birr in 2001.
They will be joined by Naomh Abán Intermediate and Gabriel
Rangers Junior in bidding to have 3 three Cork clubs in
contention for All-Ireland titles on finals day.

Donoughmore come from the the Mid Cork region, are one of
the oldest clubs in the Co, with a rich sporting tradition,
going back to the early dasy of the GAA and the Open sports
which were very strong over 100 years ago. The ladies came
into their own 8 years ago when they defeated Glanworth
to capture their first Senior title after many years of
frustration, mainly at the hands of the then kingpins Glanworth.
Donoughmoe have reigned supreme since at Club level in Cork
and this year led by Juliet Murphy captured 8 in a row.

The club was founded in 1977. The first chairperson was
Pat Joe Murphy and the Vice Chairperson was one Sheila Kiely
who incredibly still playing in 2003. She insists that this
is her last year playing but, I would not bet on it. The
PRO was local legend Jackie O’Shea who is still very much
involved in the booking of the fields. In Mossie Barrett
they have a dedicated coach and he has brought the team
through the ranks to their present high level. Their All-Ireland
win of 2 years ago is famed in song and story with Eddie
Quinlan, Sheila’s husband composer and singer of their anthem.
They will be very conscious that they will be up against
it, when the All-Ireland Champions Carnacon travel to the
fine new complex at Lackabawn.

Last year the Mayo girls shattered the Donoughmore dream
when they convincingly defeated them up in Mayo. Things
for Donoughmore will be different this year. Home ground
will make a huge difference and they have been playing exceptionally
well, winning the Cork championships in a canter. They defeated
their long time adversaries Ballymacarbry convincingly in
the final, but received a fright from Southern Gaels of
Kerry, in the Semi-final when they left a big interval lead
slip, but had enough in reserve to go through. Ably marshalled
by the evergreen Hanora Kelleher at Centre back who has
dedicated more than 20 years of her life to the sport, She
has been they guiding influence in the club and an inspiration
to the younger players around her, like her dad John the
fatehr figure of the club.

They have a fine mix of younger and older players. Mary
O’Connor has been their scoring machine this year and Juliet
Murphy their capt and midfield general has been a huge influence
as well. Her midfield partner this year is 16 year old Rena
Buckley who was one of their stars at 14, two years ago.
The former cross-country star was recently named as the
young player of the year for Munster and as Coach Mossie
Barrett has stated she plays with a grace and maturity way
beyond her tender years. The key to Sunday could well be
the defence. If Donoughmore can curb the influence of Cora
Staunton who destroyed them last year and Michelle McGing
and co, then they will have an excellent chance. They game
timed for 2pm should draw a record crowd to the venue.

Naomh Abán
Hailing from the West Cork Gaeltacht of Balllyvourney
have ben there and almost done that at Junior Level. With
a fabulous Minor and junior team at the end of the Millennium,
they looked the team for the new Millennium. They were never
able to find their feet at Senior level. The drop down to
Intermediate level, has helped their rehabilitation process.
Pat O’Sullivan is back with them again and with Jerry Lynch
a former Cork footballer himself training them, they have
a formidable sideline team.

On they field they have been living dangerously at times,
none more so when on Sunday last they diced with defeat
until Katie Lynch rescued them with a late late penalty
to give them victory by a point. They all count and their
fighting spirit to triumph in adversity was also apparent
in the Munster final win over Capppawhite. Now in their
10th year in existence they have developed from a thriving
juvenile section ,much of the credit for this must go to
Noel Scannell and Noreen Lynch. They have a very solid fullback
in Fiona O’Sullivan whose salvo into attack on Sunday last
earned a penalty when she was hauled down, Siobhan Buckley
captains the team from Centre back and they have an excellent
midfield pairing in Eimear O’Connell and Marie Corkery.
The bulk of the scoring has been done by Caoimhe Creedon
and the youthful Katie Lynch.

Gabriel Rangers.
This thriving club from the Ballydehob district of West
Cork, are a relatively young club founded in 1997 with Deirdre
Ward as Chairperson and she is still very much involved
in the club and plays at midfield on Sunday. After the frustration
of losing 4 finals they finally came good this year when
they defeated Kildorrery i the final to make it a league
and championship double. They have been showing terrific
form since amassing some big scores on their way to the
Munster title and in the All-Ireland quarter final.

The bulk of the scoring has been done by their basketball
star Nollaig Clearly, she has been inspiried form and has
hit the net an incredible 8 times in her last 2 games. Their
very consistent Gretta Burchill is an inspiration to the
team from between the posts. Stalwart of many a Cork team,
her experience has been invaluable. Ellen Regan marshals
the defence well from fullback, with her sister and capt
Ann always solid at Centre Back. They have a very hardworking
midfield pairing in Deirdre Ward and Elaine Cotter, up front
the forwards play with purpose and cohesion and apart from
Nollaig Cleary, her sister Emer and ace free taker Claire
O’Brien, as well as Deirdre Cotter have been getting the
scores a plenty.

Hopefully they will do so on Sunday, but going into the
the home den of Dunmore McHales a club with a rich heritage
will be no easy task. They have been getting a huge following
for their games and no doubt many will make the long journey
to Galway on Sunday for a game timed for 1pm.

Fr. Liam Kelleher PRO 087-8516984

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