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‘Playing in an All-Ireland final is the stuff of dreams’

December 7th, 2023 11:00 AM

By Ger McCarthy

O'Donovan Rossa's Éabha O'Donovan under pressure from Gusserane's Anna Breen during the All-Ireland junior club championship semi-final in Skibbereen. (Photos: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile)

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O’DONOVAN ROSSA are heading for Parnell Park and an All-Ireland LGFA Junior Club Championship final appearance following victory over Gusserane at O’Donovan Rossa Park on Saturday.

It rained, it poured, but none of O’Donovan Rossa’s supporters in a sizeable attendance cared. An All-Ireland final awaits this remarkable team.

What a day for the West Cork LGFA club on their home ground. What a team this Rossa senior set-up has transformed into over the past 12 months.

From one to 15, plus all their game-changers off the bench, this O’Donovan Rossa team is a serious outfit and now, one step from All-Ireland glory.

O'Donovan Rossa's Laura O'Mahony gets to the ball ahead of Gusserane's Amanda Power.


Since leaving MTU Cork following a chastening 2022 county junior A final defeat to Naomh Abán, Rossas have been a team on a mission. Winning every game in this year’s Cork county and Munster junior A championships before overcoming Glasgow Gaels in Scotland, the Skibbereen club reached an All-Ireland decider by blowing away Wexford and Leinster champions Gusserane.

‘Getting off to a great start was massive,’ O’Donovan Rossa manager James O’Donovan told The Southern Star.

‘In front of our own crowd and on our home pitch, we just wanted to hit the ground running. In fairness to the girls, they got three points on the board straightaway. That took the nerves away and gave us a chance to play.’

And play O’Donovan Rossa certainly did. Leading 0-4 to 0-1, one of the team’s unsung heroes, Triona Murphy, blazed a shot into the roof of the net and Rossas led 1-8 to 0-4 at the break.

Heavy showers failed to dampen the host’s enthusiasm in the third quarter, a period in which Gusserane self-destructed. Red and yellow cards in quick succession ended any chance of a comeback. Their opponents moved in for the kill.

The tireless Laura O’Mahony set up Fionnuala O’Driscoll for a late goal and the Skibbereen club saw out the remaining minutes to seal an All-Ireland final spot.

Once again, yet another O’Donovan Rossa win was forged on the back of their defence. Goalkeeper Christine Fitzgerald, Michelle Donellan, Emer McCarthy, Allie Tobin, Fiona Leonard, Sarah Hurley and Lisa Harte didn’t put a foot wrong all afternoon.

Watching Cork senior manager Shane Ronayne will, hopefully, have taken note of corner-back Allie Tobin’s player-of-the-match performance.

Rossas had heroes all over the pitch, not least Jessica Beechinor, Emma Hurley, Kate O’Connell, Éabha O’Donovan, Kate O’Donovan, Fionnuala O’Driscoll and Triona Murphy.

‘Triona Murphy’s first-half goal was vital and she is an unbelievable athlete,’ James O’Donovan added. ‘It did not surprise me that Triona got on the end of that move. Thirty seconds later she was beside our goalie at the other end. She works so hard and I was delighted she got the goal.’

O'Donovan Rossa manager James O'Donovan.
(Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile)


O’Donovan Rossa got off to a brilliant start with Emma Hurley, Fionnuala O’Driscoll and Kate O’Connell points making it 0-3 to 0-0 early on. Skibb goalkeeper Christine Fitzgerald denied Gusserane’s Shauna Hackett a certain goal shortly after as the visitors demonstrated some of their attacking abilities.

Éabha O’Donovan stretched her side’s advantage as Aoife Cullen got Gusserane on the scoreboard via a free deflected after 11 minutes. Rossas’ response was devastating – a flowing passing move ended with Triona Murphy rifling a shot into the net to make it 1-4 to 0-1.

Abby Whitty revitalised Gusserane with a much-needed score before Éabha O’Donovan and Fiona Ryan exchanged points. O’Donovan Rossa’s defence continued to dominate prior to Fionnuala O’Driscoll, Kate O’Donovan and Éabha O’Donovan scores making it 1-8 to 0-3. Heavy showers hindered Gusserane’s fightback as a Fiona Ryan free made it 1-8 to 0-4 at the interval.

Persistent showers slowed the pace as a more physical game developed. Éabha O’Donovan continued to shine and converted frees either side of a Fiona Ryan Gusserane score.

The Wexford club’s chance suffered a double-blow when Aishling Murphy was red carded for kicking out at Emer McCarthy. Disastrously, the visitors were down to 13 players when Aoife Ryan sin-binned a minute later.

Despite their numerical disadvantage, Aoife Cullen scored Gussarane’s sixth point, but it proved academic as O’Donovan Rossa kicked for home. Laura O’Mahony scored prior to providing an assist for Fionnuala O’Driscoll to net Rossa’s second goal.

Éabha O’Donovan’s sixth point completed the scoring on an unforgettable day for O’Donovan Rossa’s players, mentors and supporters.

‘The next two weeks are going to be a carnival in Skibbereen before we head to Parnell Park,’ O’Donovan added. ‘Playing in an All-Ireland final is the stuff of dreams.’

It is no longer a dream, it is time to dream big O’Donovan Rossa. Time to collect the best Christmas present ever.



O’Donovan Rossa: Éabha O’Donovan 0-6 (2f); Fionnuala O’Driscoll 1-2; Triona Murphy 1-0; Emma Hurley, Kate O’Connell, Kate O’Donovan, Laura O’Mahony 0-1 each.

Gusserane: Fiona Ryan 0-3 (2f); Aoife Cullen 0-2 (2f); Abby Whitty 0-1.


O’Donovan Rossa: Christine Fitzgerald; Michelle Donellan, Emer McCarthy, Allie Tobin; Fiona Leonard, Sarah Hurley, Lisa Harte (captain); Laura O’Mahony, Triona Murphy; Jessica Beechinor, Emma Hurley, Kate O’Connell; Éabha O’Donovan, Kate O’Donovan, Fionnuala O’Driscoll.

Subs: Aoife Whooley got M Donnellan (37), Aoife O’Driscoll for J Beechinor (48), Aideen Bohane for L Harte (55), Áine McCarthy for F O’Driscoll (56), Eadaoin Fitzgerald for L O’Mahony (60, inj).

Gusserane: Lauren Roche; Emma Rossiter, Amanda Power, Anna Breen; Katie Whelan, Siobhán Kehoe (captain), Shauna Whitty; Aisling Ryan, Aoife Ryan; Ciara Ryan, Aoife Cullen, Abby Whitty; Fiona Ryan, Aisling Murphy, Shauna Hackett.

Subs: Lucy Dillon for A Whitty (48), Kerri Sommers for C Ryan (55), Anna Dillon for F Ryan (58).

Referee: Ciaran Groome (Offaly).

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