Skibb ladies honoured for county title succcess
WINNING the October Carbery GAA monthly team accolade is just reward for an O’Donovan Rossa ladies football team that delivered plenty of thrills over the past 12 months.
The Skibbereen club made headlines by winning the 2018 Cork ladies’ football county junior C football title following two epic encounters with rivals Castlehaven.
The large attendances at both the drawn final and replay, not to mention the quality of football on display, showcased both clubs’ emerging talent.
Yet, the manner in which Rossas edged a terrific final plus the huge effort undertaken by the Skibbereen club in winning the county C championship means the Carbery GAA monthly award represents a significant milestone for the winner’s backroom team and squad.
‘The award is a great bonus for us at the end of a long year,’ manager Michael McCarthy said.
‘We had a great year but there has been a lot of hard work put in. At the end of the day, it was a junior C county title so now we are moving up a grade and need to be realistic about the coming year. The girls will be playing at a higher grade next year and it’s time for us to move on.
‘Maintaining the same level of commitment is absolutely key for us in 2019. We were fortunate in that a lot of stuff fell into place for us this past year. Our younger players were primarily transition and fifth year students so that made it that bit easier for them to make a commitment to the team. Next year we will have a lot of girls in Leaving Cert as well as others doing various exams, so we will have to look at a different schedule, perhaps.
‘On the plus side, there are a lot of very good U16 players coming through so that will give them an opportunity to make an impact.’
It took a mammoth effort for O’Donovan Rossa’s players to see off Castlehaven and lift silverware.
‘We were involved in 64 training sessions and played 24 matches during the past year. That’s a huge amount of effort to put in so everyone is delighted to have received the award,’ O’Donovan Rossa’s Grace O’Mahony noted.
‘We are absolutely delighted because of all the work that the entire squad put in over the last 12 months. In terms of commitment, well there were few rainy evenings when things were tough alright. But there was not one training session cancelled so our coaches deserve great credit for all the time and effort they put in. All those training sessions really stood to us in the end.’
O’Mahony’s delight was echoed by her team captain Christine Fitzgerald who stated, ‘We are delighted with this award as the majority of the squad has been together all the way up through the underage ranks.’
‘A lot of the girls that won the county title this year would have started out together at the U9, U10 and U12 grades. A huge amount of work has gone in not just this year but during all the other years to get to this point. It is great for everyone involved with the club to be recognised with this Carbery award. I think it will help drive us on again next year.’
Unsurprisingly, those two county final encounters with Castlehaven ranked highest amongst the O’Donovan Rossa ladies football team’s season-highlights.
‘Undoubtedly, those local derbies against such tough opponents definitely captured the local imagination,’ Michael McCarthy commented.
‘I think, to be fair, both Skibbereen and Castlehaven were probably quite strong for the grade and it was a case of two evenly matched teams dominating for most of the year. As anyone who attended our games with Castlehaven will tell you, there was only the kick of a ball in it at the end.’
The drawn county final and replay have a special place too in Grace O’Mahony’s memories.
‘I feel privileged that I was able to play in both the drawn and replayed county finals, those were really special occasions,’ she said.
‘We have had a good following throughout the year but the crowds that turned up for the two finals were fantastic. I’m sure they are games that I will remember for a long time.
‘I remember there being huge pressure on us. A lot of things were said in the dressing room before the replay when the entire squad was present. We were very disappointed after the drawn game. The second day out, we knew we had to put in a bigger effort and we were the better team in the end. I think Castlehaven brought the best out of us.’
Looking ahead, a committed squad and solid underage structure means O’Donovan Rossa are well positioned to make an impact at a higher grade. 2018 will long be remembered for winning a county C title but the best is yet to come from the Carbery GAA monthly award winners.