BY GER McCARTHY
FOUR Mairead O’Driscoll goals helped Castlehaven become Cork ladies’ junior C county football champions following a hard-fought victory over Mallow in Shanbally last weekend.
‘Winning a county is the icing on the cake for this group of girls,’ Castlehaven manage Denny Cahalane said.
‘People don’t realise what these girls have put themselves through. They have been out two or three nights a week in the bad weather during the winter months slogging away for a day like this.’
Cahalane was also quick to pay tribute to the people behind the scenes following Castlehaven’s county final success.
‘This team, as the women’s senior team, is now being treated the exact same as the men’s,’ Cahalane said.
‘In fairness, this is an unbelievable achievement for them after all the effort that’s been involved. There have been great people working away in the background like Roland Whelton, Brian Hourihane, Tina Browne, Maeve Davis and Finbarr Santry to name but a few. Everyone in the club has made an effort which makes the county final all the more pleasing.
‘It is the players that deserve it the most though considering the amount of time and effort that has gone in.’
The West Cork club got off to a nervous start as their opponents utilised a strong wind to move four points clear. It took a converted Katie Cronin free to get Castlehaven off the mark but Mallow responded instantly, scoring a goal to push 1-4 to 0-1 ahead.
Mairead O’Driscoll floated over her team’s second score prior to a superb move ending with the same player finding the net after 17 minutes to make it a two-point game.
Once again Mallow underlined their class by reeling off three unanswered points to make it 1-7 to 1-2 with only five minutes remaining of the opening half. Crucially, Castlehaven possessed a trump card in Mairead O’Driscoll and the full-forward took centre-stage in the closing minutes of a cracking opening period.
O’Driscoll scored a goal and a point in quick succession and managed to evade the attentions of the Mallow full-back line to complete her hat-trick in first-half injury-time. There was still time for the Haven’s opponents to reply with two late points and the sides changed ends level, 3-3 to 1-9.
Castlehaven’s Jessica McCarthy, Siobhán Courtney and Shelly Daly were prominent during a free-flowing third quarter in which Sarah O’Donovan, Katie Cronin (free) and Mairead O’Driscoll kicked over important scores.
A Mallow goal edged the North Cork club back in front after 46 minutes but that didn’t deter a Castlehaven side intent on winning a county trophy and gaining promotion to the junior B ranks in 2020.
Grainne O’Sullvian found the net with eight minutes to go and Mairead O’Driscoll’s fourth green flag of the county final made it 5-6 to 2-12 with six minutes remaining. O’Sullivan added another point, as did Mallow in injury-time but Castlehaven held on for a memorable victory.
Castlehaven scorers: Mairead O’Driscoll 4-2; Grainne O’Sullivan 1-1; Katie Cronin 0-3; Sarah O’Donovan 0-1.
Castlehaven: Emma O’Callaghan; Aine Daly, Jessica McCarthy, Trish Whelton; Orla O’Sullivan, Noreen O’Sullivan, Shelly Dineen; Siobhán Courtney (captain), Shelly Daly; Racheal O’Driscoll, Fiona O’Sullivan, Lisa Keohane; Grainne O’Sullivan, Mairead O’Driscoll, Katie Cronin.
Subs: Sarah O’Donovan, Kate Brown, Jessica Kearney, Marie O’Regan, Gillian Barry, Eilish Bohane, Emma Daly, Diana O’Driscoll, Mags O’Regan, Aidín Santry, Rachel Deasy, Niamh Connolly, Ciara French, Lauren O’Donovan, Alice O’Driscoll, Rachel Whelton, Siadbh O’Donovan
Mallow: Elaine Carroll; Sophie Parrott, Kate O’Donovan (captain), Amy McDonnell; Niamh O’Leary, Lily O’Meara, Emma Fitzgerald; Jenny Luddy, Maura McDonald; Mai Willis, Laura Willis, Shauna Ludgate; Alanna Maunsell, Kathleen O’Brien, Clodagh Fitzgerald.
Subs: Rachel Sheehan, Jane O’Meara, Ella O’Sullivan, Molly Cunningham, Maire O’Connell, Tara Walsh, Aoife O’Rourke, Grace Cronin, Grainne O’Leary, Andrea White, Aine Kelleher, Catriona O’Sullivan.
Referee: Chris Cronin (Kinsale).