Mourneabbey will be hoping to channel years of heartbreak into their performance when they take to the pitch on Saturday against Foxrock-Cabinteely in the All Ireland Ladies Football club final.
The Cork side have experienced much success in recent years at both county and provincial level but the biggest prize in the competition has so far eluded them. In 2014, a superb performance from Geraldine McLaughlin saw them lose out to Termon in their first ever final.
They got another bite of the cherry the next year when they faced five-time champions, Donaghmoyne, who prevailed, even with 13-players on the pitch. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be ‘third time lucky’ for Mourneabbey either in 2017 as they fell to a two-point defeat to Carnacon.
From a distance, it looks as though the stars are aligning for the Cork champions in 2018. Last years winners lost out to Kilkerrin-Clonberne in the Connacht final, the side whom Mourneabbey dismissed in the semi-final last month.
Yet, standing in their way are familiar opponents in Foxrock-Cabinteely, a side who are no strangers to heartbreak either. For that reason, Mourneabbey and Cork corner-back, Eimear Meaney, is expecting a fierce battle in Parnell Park.
“I think as a neutral, it will definitely be a brilliant game to watch, it should be exciting and quite an interesting match. There’s very little between the teams, they’ve suffered a lot of heartbreak, so have we.”
“There’s no question that both teams are going to be extremely hungry on the day so it could come down to the last five minutes, it’s going to be a close one, it’s a game of inches at this stage. We can only hope that luck is on our side on Saturday.”
Having had so many unsuccessful attempts at claiming the Dolores Tyrrell Memorial Cup, the thought of another final loss is almost unimaginable. The best way to avoid all the emotions that come with a final is to forget about what’s at stake, something that the team are determined to do.
“I think definitely for Mourneabbey, we definitely need to take the focus out of it being an All Ireland final because we nearly wince at the words All Ireland final at this stage, it’s kind of haunting us so I think as cliche as it is, we definitely are focusing on it as being ‘any other game’ and just trying to deal with it like we have.”
We’ve had five tough games coming in from the county semi-final, we had a replay in the county final and we’d a tough match then in Munster and then the All Ireland semi so I think we’re just trying to approach it like we approached those games.”
“Obviously, it’s extremely competitive and we’re getting ourselves prepared to the best we can but I think we’re definitely trying to take the big hype out of the All Ireland final I suppose.”
The side have no shortage of talented stars that they can call upon to get them over the line on Saturday. Four members of the squad were nominated for All-Star awards following Cork’s season, with sisters, Doireann and Ciara O’Sullivan, walking away with gongs.
“We’re absolutely delighted and extremely proud of both Ciara and Doireann O’Sullivan. They were so well deserved, they had exceptional years with Cork and they are showing that leadership out on the pitch with Mourneabbey so I think we’re just lucky and privileged to be playing with players of their calibre in Mourneabbey.”
Christmas will come early for the three clubs who are successful in the All-Ireland Senior, Intermediate and Junior Club Finals, which will be played next Saturday and Sunday, December 8/9.
There’s a double-header at Parnell Park on Saturday as Foxrock-Cabinteely (Dublin) and Mourneabbey (Cork) go head-to-head for the Senior title at 5:15pm, before Clontarf (Dublin) and Emmet Óg (Monaghan) clash in the Intermediate Final (7:30pm).
On Sunday, it’s the turn of the Junior Finalists, namely Glanmire (Cork) and Tourlestrane (Sligo), who will meet at Duggan Park in Ballinasloe at 2:30pm.