AFTER several near misses, Valley Rovers finally got their hands on the Cork LGFA Junior A football championship trophy last weekend.
The Brinny club overcame Douglas 2-17 to 2-3 in Waterfall and put to rest previous junior A football championship county final defeats to Glanmire and Donoughmore. Led by their West Cork and Cork inter-county players, Daire and Eimear Kiely, Rovers began at a high tempo and never let up.
Club captain Michelle O’Regan played a pivotal role in Valley’s success by scoring 1-7 of her side’s winning total. O’Regan converted an early penalty to settle Valley Rovers nerves as the eventual winners built an unassailable 1-7 to 0-1 interval lead.
Rovers continued to pour forward after the break and kept the scoreboard ticking over until a late Douglas flurry resulted in Ciara McCarthy and Katelyn Holland finding the net. It mattered little at that juncture however, and Valley’s Cliona Reardon raised the final green flag of the evening to confirm her side’s merited victory.
Denis Kiely, Eoghan Delaney and Denis Mulvihill guided Rovers to county championship success with the latter delighted to have finally gotten over the line.
‘We knew going into the match that it was going to be a tough game as there was nothing between us the last few times we met,’ Mulvihill said.
‘We were confident because the last time they only beat us by two points in Douglas. We did not play well and were off the pace that night. There were improvements in us and, on the day (of the final), we hit top form. In fairness to the girls, they were superb last weekend.
‘Donoughmore still hurt from last year because we felt we left that one after us. We started well, died a bit in the middle before finishing well against Donoughmore. That really felt like a golden opportunity left after us and we just weren’t going to it against Douglas. The girls were well geared up for this year’s county final.
‘The confidence came back into the side after beating Dohenys recently. Things were going really well in training and I knew we would have a good chance in the final. Thankfully, it all came together on the day itself.
‘It is always an advantage when you have only seen them (Douglas) a few weeks earlier. It allowed us to tidy up and fix a few things. It worked and it was very nice to finally get over the line.’
In the immediate future, Valley Rovers JAFC county success means entry into the upcoming Munster LGFA championship. More long-term, Mulvihill and his players are relishing the prospect of meeting some old rivals in next year’s county intermediate championship.
‘I don’t see any issues moving up to intermediate, even though there are good teams up there,’ Mulvihill concluded.
‘You have the likes of Rosscarbery who I believe might have underachieved this year. We should be able to compete and have learned a lot over the past two years. We were five points off Glanmire who became All-Ireland champions so we are looking forward to it.
‘We have a target to become a senior club by 2026. Our past chairman John Murphy set us that target so we will see if we can bring that forward a little bit.’
Valley Rovers: M O’Regan 1-7 (1-0 pen, 4f); D Kiely 0-4; E Kiely 0-3; C O’Reardon 1-1; R O’Donovan, O O’Sullivan 0-1 each.
Douglas: C McCarthy, K Holland 1-0 each; S Nagle, C Hartnett, N Lynch 0-1 each.
Valley Rovers: J Mulvihill; C Cremin, R O’Sullivan, C Murphy; R O’Donovan, K Lynch, G Dart Flynn, L Lynch, K Wall; D Kiely, E Kiely, C Reardon; M O’Regan (c), L Collins, O O’Sullivan.
Subs: J Kelly, J O’Donovan, L Callanan.
Douglas: H McCarthy; E Smith, M Mulroney, S Mulroney; J McCarthy, A O’Sullivan, C Cadogan; E Barber (c), K Holland; C Nason, N Lynch, A Kelleher; C Hartnett, L O’Brien, S Nagle.
Subs: C McCarthy, E McAndrew, A Russell, J Fox.
Referee: C McAllister.