He doesn’t have a choice but to reflect on where it all went wrong against Donaghamoyne of Monaghan a year ago given tomorrow’s All-Ireland semi-final is against the Ulster champions again.
Ronayne made a brave decision to return to the helm as last winter was a turbulent one. Not only had his team lost back-to-back club All-Ireland finals, but he also pulled out of the race to replace Eamonn Ryan as Cork boss given his disenchantment with the county board’s recruitment process.
But Ronayane, a teacher at Coláiste Dun Iascaigh in Cahir, looked around at the Mourneabbey players as they reunited for the 2016 season, and they gave him a reason to return and rectify things.
Tomorrow’s semi-final against Donaghamoyne (1pm) is where the healing can really begin.
“I love training them because they’re good people to be around. They challenge you to question what you’re doing, in a good way, and I feel I’ve improved because of that; they make sure every session is good and has a purpose, and that’s a credit to their attitude.”
The urge to retain the John Hurley Cup and win the Cork SFC for the third straight year in October resulted in a lot of self-applied pressure among the players. They narrowly overcame St Val’s in the final, but the plan was to take the shackles off against The Banner of Clare in the Munster final a fortnight ago, and it worked.
“We put ourselves under a lot of pressure to do the three in a row. The last 10 minutes was almost worse than the 2014 All-Ireland final when Cork were making the comeback,” admitted Ronayne, recently appointed coach of the intermediate Tipperary ladies team.
“In the Munster final I wanted the players to express themselves a bit more because they should take a lot of confidence in what they’ve done in the last three years, and that should count for something. They were bitterly disappointed in losing the last two All-Irelands and they’re so determined to make amends.”
As to how his players will cope with venturing to Monaghan in a bid to dethrone the reigning champions, Ronayne hints at a more relaxed approach. “There has to be more pressure on them, being All-Ireland champions and playing at home. The last two years we played the All-Ireland semi-final at home and we felt incredible pressure because the girls wanted to perform in front of their own crowd. This time it’ll be different. We have to be more effective and take the odd risk and go for it. You’re going to make mistakes but if you want to succeed, players are going to have to take a risk, take a chance.”
In the second semi-final, Fiona McHale’s Carnacon travel to Bray to take on Leinster champions and Sinead Goldrick’s Foxrock Cabinteel at 2pm.
In the junior All-Ireland semi-final tomorrow, Cork All-Star Orla Finn’s Kinsale take on Mayo champions Kilmoremoy in Ballina Stephenites at 1pm. All club finals are set for December 4.