Sport

Bantry Blues must take their chances in All-Ireland ladies final

December 4th, 2015 7:30 PM

By Kieran McCarthy

It's the final countdown: Facing off earlier this week in Croke Park ahead of Saturday's All-Ireland ladies' junior football final in Limerick were Bantry Blues captain Laura O'Sullivan and Dunboyne's Shelly Melia.

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BANTRY Blues’ boss Paul Drummey has identified the key to unlocking an All-Ireland winning performance this Saturday – his team needs to be more clinical with their scoring chances.

As impressive as the Bantry ladies’ have been en route to this first-ever All-Ireland final for the club, a recurring trait has been a wastefulness in front of the posts.

To bring the All-Ireland west to Bantry on Saturday night, and to get the better of an impressive Dunboyne team, the Blues must take their chances.

‘We need to be clinical,’ Drummey agreed.

‘We lacked a small bit of composure in the semi-final (against Steelstown) but having watched it back with the girls, they realise the few mistakes we made and we will hopefully rectify them this Saturday.

‘To win this All-Ireland we need to reward ourselves for the chances we do create. Hopefully, everything will click into gear on Saturday.’

Bantry have the forward power, averaging 0-17 per game from the start of the county championship through to this stage, with Aoife O’Driscoll and Cork U21 Libby Coppinger particularly potent in recent championship games. In their last five championship games – Munster final through to All-Ireland semi-final, O’Driscoll has amassed 5-23, while Coppinger has 3-22 to her name.

Emer O’Shea is out injured, but Myra O’Sullivan is a regular scorer, and Emma Spillane, Kate O’Brien, Sarah Coakley, Mairead Dullea and Niamh Crowley have all chipped in with scores in the last few games. More of the same is needed against Meath and Leinster champs Dunboyne.

‘They are a bit like us from what we can gather and they love to play football. They have a strong, potent attack and they have a few players who can hurt any team,’ Drummey explained.

‘We have come up against teams all year with high-profile names and players and we haven’t been found wanting against them. Our defence will need to be sharp and brilliant like it has been all season long.’

Drummey’s right. Bantry have been tight at the back, coughing up an average of only 0-10 per game in this championship run.

Even in the very tough recent games – the drawn Munster final and replay against Templemore and the All-Ireland semi-final against Steelstown of Derry – Bantry conceded a total of 2-25; an impressive statistic.

The full-back line is settled with former Fermanagh captain Edel McGovern, full back Aoife Crowley and Doireann O’Shea, while the half-back line sees Mairead Dullea, centre back and Cork U21 Ann Coakley and Laura O’Sullivan or Sarah Deane (who started against Steelstown). Cork U21 goalkeeper Seadna O’Sullivan is a reliable last line of defence.

Add to that the impressive midfield pairing of four-time All-Ireland winning Cork minor Emma Spillane (who still has a year left at minor) and Jessica Coakley, and you suddenly appreciate why this Bantry team is where it is right now – and it’s a team that is learning, improving and evolving with each new challenge.

‘The previous three games will stand to us hugely,’ Drummey explained.

‘We have played some exciting football but also dug deep when needed – that’s a sign of a great team. Our defence have been superb and we have an attack to hurt any team in the country.’

‘We have to approach this game the same way we have done with every other championship game. This will be our fourth final and we have never looked past the next game or taken anything for granted.

‘This Saturday will be about the biggest prize of them all but you can be guaranteed the girls will approach it as professional as they have been all year.

Drummey added: ‘Staying focused is the key to unlocking the door for us. The team was hugely focused for the home All-Ireland semi-final and that wasn’t easy with the bones of 1,000 people at the game. The final will be a similar story.

‘There’s huge hype about the game but we have managed to embrace it, we will look forward to it and take it in our stride like we have done.’

Bantry will be without the injured duo of Emer O’Shea (knee) and Kathy McCarthy (shoulder) for Saturday’s All-Ireland final in the Gaelic Grounds.

It’s the first time the club has played a championship game outside of Cork, and, all going well, it will be the first time the club will lift an All-Ireland cup.

The Bantry Blues ladies’ management team includes Paul Drummey, Niall Canty, Joe Downey and John McCarthy.

 

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