Glanmire’s long and winding road to an All-Ireland decider

Dave Carey may be the Glanmire manager but he insists it is a Cork football legend that deserves all the credit for their historic run to Sunday’s All-Ireland ladies junior final.

“Geraldine O’Flynn is our coach. I’m with them 10 years but she’s come in and taken the girls to another level, she’s brilliant,” he enthuses.

The iconic Cork defender and PE teacher won 10 All-Ireland medals and a national Player of the Year trophy (2013) before her career was ended by a second torn cruciate and now all her wisdom and experience is being invested in Glanmire’s young team. Just one of their starters against Tourlestrane (Sligo) will be aged over 21, but their youth has probably been an advantage given their long and winding journey.

They squeezed past Donoughmore by just a point in the county semi-final and then had what Carey calls “a ding-dong battle with Valley Rovers”.

In Munster, they first dispatched Thurles Sarsfields but needed a great save from his goalkeeper and daughter Ava in the dying minutes to make sure of their victory over Spa of Killarney. The level of their preparation is signalled by going on a scouting mission to Kilrush’s Munster semi-final to identify the Clare champions’ key players, a bit of homework that certainly paid off.

And since then their journey has been even more scenic. Their All-Ireland quarter-final against Roger Casements of Coventry was in Birmingham “a lot of money for a match that was a bit of a non-entity but actually very valuable as a bonding trip,” Carey says.

Then came another testing road-trip, to Tyrone and Ulster champions Trillick, a match that was far more dramatic. “We went into a 14-point lead, scored 2-2 quickly after half-time, but they got two goals and brought it back to five. A lot of teams would have crumbled but the girls tightened it up when they needed. We stayed in Cootehill in Cavan the night beforehand and then went on up the road. In fairness, the people in Trillick treated us brilliantly.”

Sunday’s location – Ballinasloe – does them no favours either against a Sligo club that will have huge support and includes high-calibre players like Katie and Laura Walsh and Shauna Henry. But Glanmire, only founded in 2000, have been making waves themselves in the rich waters of Cork ladies’ football. They won the Cork Junior B last year and, most significantly, have won the last two Cork Minor A titles and this year’s county U16A.

Her basketball talent deprives them of Annaliese Murphy but Kate Hannon has already played senior with Cork, and most of her teammates have done at underage.

Carey got involved “when my daughter started. Michael Hannon was on his own with 44 kids and I said ‘do you want a hand?’ and that was it. Contract signed!” he grins.

They’re actually the fourth Cork team in-a-row to contest the ladies’ junior final, after Bantry Blues, Kinsale and Aghada. Only the latter won and Glanmire are hoping that’s a good barometer, because they were the only side to beat Aghada last year, in a county league final.

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