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Rampant Rossas crowned county champions and promoted to intermediate ranks for 2024

October 12th, 2023 10:00 AM

By Ger McCarthy

Rampant Rossas crowned county champions and promoted to intermediate ranks for 2024 Image
Dohenys' Noelle O'Mahony about to tackle O'Donovan Rossa's Lisa Harte during the Cork LGFA JAFC final at MTU on Saturday. (Photo: Paddy Feen)

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ONE year on from tasting defeat in the Cork LGFA county final, O’Donovan Rossa returned to MTU Cork and righted the wrongs of 12 months earlier.

An all-West Cork junior A football decider saw the Skibbereen club overpower a Dohenys side that toiled hard but struggled in front of goal all afternoon.

There were no such issues for a determined, clinical and focussed O’Donovan Rossa. Clearly, last year’s county final loss to Naomh Abán fuelled the fire for an unblemished 2023 campaign. Bottom line, Rossas will join the intermediate ranks as county champions in 2024 and deservedly so.

‘Losing last year’s final was a big factor all right,’ O’Donovan Rossa manager James O’Donovan commented.

‘There is an awful lot of hurt in losing a county final. The girls wanted to prove that they belong at this level. They gave a great account of themselves today.’

O'Donovan Rossa's Kate O'Connell is challenged by Dohenys' Melissa Duggan.

O’Donovan Rossa’s forward line will grab the headlines, but victory over Dohenys was forged in their back division. Keeping their opponents scoreless for 29 minutes was as impressive as the incessant blocking and tackling executed right up until the final whistle. For that, Christine Fitzgerald (on point with her kick-outs), Michelle Donnellan, Emer McCarthy, Allie Tobin, Fiona Leonard, Sarah Hurley and Lisa Harte deserve immense credit. The same goes for the all-action midfield duo of Laura O’Mahony and Triona Murphy.

‘It has been the same all year with our defenders,’ James O’Donovan agreed.

‘We have great forwards but it is the defence that gives us the platform to perform. Every day, they turn up and are magnificent for us. I’m delighted for them.

‘It takes a full team effort though. We have some quality players, but you are not depending on any one individual on any given day.’

O'Donovan Rossa's Éabha O'Donovan cuts inside Dohenys' Ciara Aherne.

Dohenys began positively thanks to midfielders Melissa Duggan and Eirinn O’Donovan’s industry. Ruth Collins had an early sight of goal but flicked wide from close range. That was O’Donovan Rossa’s cue to tighten up at the back and their opponents would not score until a minute before the interval.

Éabha O’Donovan converted a free and Rossas underlined their attacking quality when Emma Hurley thundered a shot in off the crossbar. That early goal rocked Dohenys and O’Donovan Rossa took full advantage. Points from Laura O’Mahony and Emma Hurley made it 1-3 to 0-0 with less than 15 minutes played.

Another Dunmanway goal chance was squandered as an increasingly confident-looking Rossa’s attacks increased. Kate O’Donovan scored a superb long-range point prior to a swift passing move that sliced through the heart of Dohenys’ defence. Éabha O’Donovan found the bottom corner courtesy of a quality finish.

Cork senior Melissa Duggan came within the width of a crossbar and forced goalkeeper Christine Fitzgerald into a point-blank stop from getting her team on the scoreboard. It was another inter-county Rebel, Laura O’Mahony, who struck next however, arrowing a majestic shot into the top corner to make it 3-4 to 0-0.

Duggan was rewarded for her sterling efforts with a Dohenys goal just before Michelle Murphy raised a white flag. The Skibbereen club changed ends with the cushion of a nine-point lead and never looked like relinquishing that advantage thanks to a terrific defensive second-half performance.

Mairead Crowley and Rachel McCarthy reduced the deficit before another Dohenys opportunity came back off a post. Once again, O’Donovan Rossa demonstrated their clinical finishing as the hardworking Kate O’Connell netted her side’s fourth goal ten minutes into the second period. Emma Hurley and Kate O’Donovan exchanged points with Noelle Murphy and Rachel McCarthy but it was Rossas who finished the county final in style.

The O'Donovan Rossa's team that defeated Dohenys' in the Cork LGFA JAFC final at MTU on Saturday.

Three Éabha O’Donovan points and an Aoife O’Driscoll effort completed the winners’ total during a dominant final quarter. Mairead McCarthy’s free may have snuck under the Rossa’s crossbar but it mattered little at that late juncture. The Skibbereen club ran out convincing winners. Redemption for a group of players and management team that waited 12 months to atone for their previous county final appearance.

‘Winning on the same MTU pitch where we lost last year means so much,’ Rossa’s Laura O’Mahony commented. ‘We rewrote the wrongs of last year. Everyone contributed to our win. Fionnuala O’Driscoll went off with a hamstring injury at half time, so we wanted to win it for her. The passing of Tony Salter from Skibbereen, he was such a great supporter of our club, meant we really wanted to win it for him as well today.’


O’Donovan Rossa: É O’Donovan 1-4 (2f); E Hurley 1-2; L O’Mahony 1-1; K O’Connell 1-0; K O’Donovan 0-2; A O’Driscoll 0-1.

Dohenys: M Crowley 1-1 (1-1f); M Duggan 1-0; R McCarthy 0-2; N O’Mahony, M Murphy 0-1 each.

O’Donovan Rossa: C Fitzgerald; M Donnellan, E McCarthy, A Tobin; F Leonard, S Hurley, L Harte (captain); L O’Mahony, T Murphy; J Beechinor, E Hurley, K O’Connell; É O’Donovan, K O’Donovan, F O’Driscoll.

Subs: A O’Driscoll for F O’Driscoll (ht, inj), A Leonard for M Donnellan (50), Á McCarthy for J Beechinor (60), E O’Donovan for F Leonard (63).

Dohenys: N McCarthy; C Aherne, A Hayes, Michelle Duggan; C O’Mahony, A Duggan, M Collins; Melissa Duggan, E O’Donovan; A O’Donovan, M Crowley (captain), M Murphy; N O’Mahony, R Collins, R McCarthy.

Subs: C Healy for C O’Mahony (40), S O’Connell for A Hayes (40), A Blewitt for C Aherne (54), C McSweeney for M Murphy (54).

Referee: M Dullea (Bantry Blues).

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