As a member Eamonn Ryan’s Cork backroom team, that day changed not only Ronayne’s thinking on the depths of persistence, but it moulded a new generation of footballer also.
“That day in Croker was a rollercoaster and then two weeks later to win the county with Mourneabbey was incredible,” said the Mitchelstown man, who will oversee the Cork champions’ first bid for the Dolores Tyrell Memorial Cup at Tuam Stadium (2pm) against Termon of Donegal. “A friend of mine was telling me about his young fella, and how his friends were talking about that win by the Cork ladies and saying ‘no matter how much we’re down, we can still come back’. The nature of that win has spurred on every team, every GAA player,” he said of Cork’s win against Dublin.
Tomorrow he’ll hold the reigns himself when they face fellow first-timers Termon, and he’s a changed man since serving an apprenticeship under ‘The Master’.
Like Ryan, Ronayne is a teacher, based in Coláiste Dún Iascaigh in Cahir, and he too is an avid reader of sports books.
‘Legacy — 15 Lessons in Leadership’, Jason Kerr’s insight into the All Blacks, is what’s presently being digested, and Ronayne has integrated their methods during his inaugural season with Mourneabbey.
He’s done so with team manager Dominic Gallagher, whom he met at the start of the season, and instantly realised he’d work well with. A five-minute introduction turned into a three-hour discussion over a drink in the Hibernian Hotel in Mallow.
“We told the girls that this year couldn’t be about three or four players, and we weren’t just saying that as a cliché, we wanted everyone to contribute.
“They’re a bit more composed now, they had to be. We put it back on them that if they made a mistake, they just had to get on with it.
“The morning we played the Banner (Clare) in the Munster final, the All Blacks were losing to Australia. They needed a try to win with two minutes to go and they got it. They kept their composure and kept going through their systems.
“We spoke to the girls about that. We now have our own system and if things go wrong, we revert back,” said Ronayne, whose coaching career began in Mitchelstown alongside his father, Philip.
Captained by Cork senior Roisín O’Sullivan, Mourneabbey will travel to Galway today ahead of the game — which will be shown on TG4 following the Munster and Ulster men’s football finals — and should they win, they’ll be the first ladies football club ever to have claimed junior, intermediate and senior All-Ireland club titles.
The standout player in the All-Ireland series this season however has been Termon captain Geraldine McLaughlin, who hit 2-4 in the semi-final against Kilkerrin-Clonberne.
Ronanyne however isn’t too concerned, and it boils back to that word ‘system’ again.
“She’ll be hard to stop but the key for us is that the quality of possession going into her can’t be good. We don’t have a specific plan for her. Players can sometimes get too caught up if overloaded with instructions and play passes them by. We’d be conscious of playing our own game and they’ve plenty of other players. In fairness, it takes a lot to come back after getting a hammering in the Ulster final last year and to go to Clonberne against all expectations and win, that’s impressive. We don’t have a divine right to win it, but we’ll do our very best.