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 as the top senior club in the county thanks to a blistering start in which Laura 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 Roynane’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.
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.
A second consecutive senior county final defeat should not detract from a determined Éire Óg effort. Donal Cronin’s panel is a talented one and improving with each passing season.
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 0-0. Éire Óg were guilty of wasting numerous chances in the opening half but a second quarter burst brought the Ovens club back into contention.
Eimear Scally, Meabh Cahalane and Maire O’Leary scores made it 2-4 to 0-7 after 20 minutes. Doirean O’Sullivan remained unnerving from frees, however, and she along with Roisin O’Sullivan helped edge the champions 2-7 to 0-8 ahead at the break.
A scrappy third quarter preceded a hard-hitting final 15 minutes in which Eimear Scally and Doireann O’Sullivan exchanged frees. It was 2-11 to 0-10 when Anna Ryan burst clear only to be brought down in the Éire Óg square.
Laura Fitzgerald completed her hat-trick from the ensuing penalty and Mourenabbey saw out the remaining minutes to win 3-12 to 0-13.
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).