Inniscarra’s got a winning feeling for Croke Park

INNISCARRA isn’t so much a place as a feeling and, lately, that feeling has been jubilant. The parish, eight kilometres or so from Cork city is home to about 7,000 souls but, right now 33 of them are the ones who really matter.

They make up the panel of players on the village’s camogie team. Having beaten the Ulster Champions, O’Donovan Rossa, in the All-Ireland semi-final, only Connacht champions Killimor stand between the mid-Cork team and glory at Croke Park tomorrow.

“It has been a fantastic and exciting year,” says team captain Margaret Noelle O’Sullivan, who works as a solicitor with the firm PJ O’Driscoll in Cork. “We won six cups so far and there is only this one coveted title to secure. It has all come together for us after the disappointment of last year.”

Support has been central to success and it’s as if the whole parish is part of the team. They came out in great numbers so far, with an estimated 1,000 supporters travelling to Nowlan Park, Kilkenny, to the semi- final against O’Donovan Rossa of Belfast.

“The support from the club and parish and surrounding areas is incredible,” she says. “This is an historic time for the club. There is bunting all over the parish and there has been phenomenal work being done behind the scenes. We believe we can do it and if we win there will be bonfires and celebrations like you’ve never seen before.

“It has been 14 years since a Cork club has won so the whole county is behind us. It is very special to be playing in Croke Park and it is the first time in 40 years that an All-Ireland camogie club final is being held there. It is so very special to be part of that.”

Team coach Fergal O’Leary remembers the determination of the team after they were beaten in the 2009 Championship by Milford. “Everybody knew this was a game they should have won and came away from that dressing room with a determination for the future to keep going and never give up until the final whistle. This trait has been the big difference this year. Games have been drawn or won in very tight situations but never lost.”

While the team captain, at 33, is the oldest player on the team, a mixture of youth and experience has been the recipe for success so far. One girl, Niamh McCarthy, is only 14 but she has shown a canny ability to score goals at crucial stages.

Whatever happens tomorrow it has been a golden year for the parish of Inniscarra and Cumann Camogaíochta Iniscartha, in particular.

Picture: Solicitor Margaret O'Sullivan, Captain of the Inniscarra camogie team who play Killimor in the Club All-Ireland Camogie Championships, getting a good send off from colleagues at P.J. O'Driscoll and Sons, Solicitors on the South Mall, Cork. Picture: Dan Linehan

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