A Laura Fitzgerald hat-trick helped deliver another Cork LGFA SFC county title for Mourneabbey at MTU Cork on Saturday.
The reigning Cork and Munster LGFA champions reaffirmed their position atop the senior club county rankings thanks to a blistering start in which Fitzgerald twice found the net, including a penalty, inside the opening 5 minutes.
Then, Fitzgerald converted a second spot-kick to complete her hat-trick and end Éire Óg’s resistance midway through the second half.
In the end, Shane Ronayne’s all-conquering side, competing in their ninth consecutive senior decider, defeated a worthy opponent in Éire Óg. Yet the winners thoroughly deserved their eighth title in nine attempts.
“I think this is probably one of our sweetest wins,” Shane Ronayne said.
“We used 18 players in last year’s All-Ireland final. Six of those are gone and we had three 16-year old’s starting today. They have been outstanding.
“We value today because Éire Óg are a coming team and have had an excellent year. We are the standard bearers so you can’t but admire what those players do all of the time.”
Clearly, there is plenty of life left in experienced campaigners Doireann, Ciara, Roisin and Meabh O’Sullivan’s legs as evidenced by their influential displays. Maire O’Callaghan and Bríd O’Sullivan underlined their worth with commanding performances in middle of the pitch.
Mourneabbey couldn’t have asked for a better start with Laura Fitzgerald twice finding the net (one penalty) and Doireann O’Sullivan scoring to make it 2-1 to 0-1.
Éire Óg were guilty of wasting numerous chances but a second quarter burst brought the Ovens club into contention.
Eimear Scally, Meabh Cahalane and Maire O’Leary scores made it 2-4 to 0-7 after 20 minutes. Doireann O’Sullivan remained unnerving from frees and she, along with Roisin O’Sullivan, edged the champions 2-7 to 0-8 ahead at half time.
It was 2-11 to 0-10 when Anna Ryan burst clear only to be brought down in the Éire Óg square late on. Laura Fitzgerald completed her hat-trick from the ensuing penalty and Mourneabbey saw out the remaining.
The gap to the county champions may be closing but, for now at least, Mourneabbey remain a step ahead.
Based on Saturday’s performance, the North Cork club will take some stopping in their upcoming provincial and (probable) All-Ireland campaigns.
L Fitzgerald 3-1 (2-0 pens), D O’Sullivan 0-6 (0-4 frees), R O’Sullivan 0-2, D Cronin, M O’Callaghan and E Jack 0-1 each.
E Scally 0-6 (0-5 frees), L Cleary and M O’Leary 0-2 each, M Cahalane, O Cahalane and A Nic a Biard 0-1 each.
M O’Sullivan; A Walsh, E Meaney, G Cronin; K Williamson, R O’Sullivan, E Cronin; M O’Callaghan, B O’Sullivan (captain); E Jack, D O’Sullivan, C O’Sullivan; D Cronin, L Fitzgerald, A Ryan.
M Burke for E Cronin (52), K O’Toole for D Cronin (61).
L Crowley; I Sheehan, J O’Gorman, A Hickey (captain); A O’Connell, S McGoldrick, M Cahalane; S Cronin, A Rodgers; E Cleary, E Scally, A Nic a Bhaird; L Cleary, M O’Leary, O Cahalane.
Elaine Scally for A Rodgers (ht), C O’Connor for M O’Leary (47), R Sheehan for A O’Connell (59, inj).
Cathal McAllister (Aghada).