Mourneabbey solidified their status as queens of the Cork LGFA senior championship with a sixth successive county title following victory over West Cork at Cork IT on Saturday.
The reigning Munster and All-Ireland club champions blitzed West Cork with four first-half goals en route to a deserved victory. Doireann O’Sullivan produced a superb individual display by scoring 2-7 and laying on the decisive pass for the majority of her side’s other scores. O’Sullivan was a class apart.
This was far from a one-woman show, however, with Bríd O’Sullivan netting and Dublin star Noelle Healy also scoring a goal.
Yet, the six-in-a-row champions’ victory was forged in defence where a full-back line of Aisling O’Sullivan, Eimear Meaney and Sandra Conroy gave nothing away.
Add to that, inspirational Meabh O’Sullivan, Roisín O’Sullivan and Máire O’Callaghan performances and there was only ever going to be one outcome.
“We won’t really appreciate this team until they are gone,” commented Mourneabbey selector Derry Cronin.
“We had spoken about getting off to a good start. Not necessarily scoring goals but the girls were clinical in their finishing when the chances presented themselves.
“At half time, we only had six scores on the board but four of those were goals which was huge for us.
We were thrilled with our performance even though we were never comfortable.
This was a day to forget for the western division.
The loss of full-back Sarah Hayes to an early injury was a huge blow but ten wides and failure to covert numerous goal-scoring opportunities was frustrating.
The game was barely two minutes old when a swift Mourneabbey move ended with Doireann O’Sullivan forcing the ball into the net from close range. O’Sullivan and Áine Terry O’Sullivan exchanged frees prior to Mourneabbey goalkeeper Meabh O’Sullivan denying Daire Kiely a certain goal.
It proved an early turning point as the All Ireland champions immediately scythed through the West Cork defence and Noelle Healy found the bottom corner to make it 2-1 to 0-1 after 12 minutes.
Eimear Kiely floated over a point in reply but once again Mourneabbey moved through the gears as Bríd O’Sullivan netted her team’s third goal thanks to an assist from her sister Doireann.
West Cork’s attempts to gain a foothold floundered in the final third as Mourneabbey’s defence stood firm.
Rosscarbery’s Sarah Hayes retired injured after 20 minutes and Mourneabbey took full advantage as Doireann O’Sullivan scored her second goal shortly after.
West Cork rallied with Áine Terry O’Sullivan, Libby Coppinger and Daire Kiely scores leaving their team 4-2 to 0-6 behind at the break.
Mourneabbey struck back early in the second period with Doireann O’Sullivan (three frees) and Laura Fitzgerald quickly restoring their side’s advantage. A scrappy third quarter saw West Cork enjoy their most productive spell but fail to convert numerous goal-scoring chances through a combination of poor finishing and brave Mourneabbey defending.
Ciara O’Sullivan was yellow carded for hauling down Melissa Duggan and Áine Terry O’Sullivan converted the resulting penalty.
Once again, the champions responded with two majestic Doireann O’Sullivan (one free) scores making it 4-8 to 1-8. The teams exchanged frees before Mourneabbey celebratied another county triumph with their ecstatic supporters.
“The Munster championship has been at the back of our minds,” Cronin concluded. “Today was all about winning another county.
“We now have a few weeks to prepare so it is all about claiming another Munster especially with a place in the All-Ireland series at stake.”
D O’Sullivan (2-7, 6 frees), N Healy (1-1), B O’Sullivan (1-0), L Fitzgerald (0-1).
Á T O’Sullivan (1-4, 3 frees), E Kiely (0-2), L Coppinger, D Kiely and M Duggan (0-1 each).
M O’Sullivan; A O’Sullivan, E Meaney, S Conroy; K Coakley, R O’Sullivan, A Ryan; M O’Callaghan, N O’Sullivan; C O’Sullivan, N Healy, B O’Sullivan (capt); E Jack, D O’Sullivan, S O’Callaghan.
L Fitzgerald for N O’Sullivan (ht), A Cronin for B O’Sullivan (42), E Harrington for S O’Callaghan (51).
M O’Brien (Clonakilty, capt); S Courtney (Castlehaven), S Hayes (Rosscarbery), C O’Shea (Beara); E Kiely (Valley Rovers), E Spillane (Bantry Blues), C Maguire (Rosscarbery); N Cotter (Beara), M Duggan (Dohenys); L O’Mahony (O’Donovan Rossa), C O’Leary, D Kiely; L Coppinger (St Colum’s), Áine T O’Sullivan (Beara), F Keating (Courcey Rovers).
C O’Sullivan (Beara) for S Hayes (22, inj), E Murphy (Bantry Blues) for E Kiely (42), R Murphy (Bantry Blues) for F Keating (42), M O’Regan (Valley Rovers) for D Kiely (60).
M Mulcahy (Lisgoold/Leamlara).