TWENTY-THREE minutes into last season’s county final, it was all over. Mourneabbey blitzed West Cork to lead 4-2 to 0-3 and there was no way back for the divisional team.
With that game in mind, as well as Mourneabbey’s 40-point thrashing of Éire Óg in their recent semi-final, their manager Shane Ronayne is expecting West Cork to make life difficult in the opening quarter on Saturday.
‘With what we did in the semi-final, certainly West Cork will look at being very tight. You can’t win a final in the first 15 minutes but you can certainly lose it,’ Ronayne said.
‘West Cork will want to be very tight and very stubborn for the first 20 minutes because we got a run on them last year. They’ll also be cognisant of making sure that we don’t get away from them because we know how to close out a game.’
Mourneabbey are bouncing into the county final after hitting Éire Óg for 11-12 in the semi-final. Ronayne described it as the ‘most complete performance’ of his seven years involved with the team. That’s an ominous warning for West Cork as the reigning county, Munster and All-Ireland champions are in the mood.
‘The long lay-off at the start of the year was very beneficial to the players and the management,’ Ronayne said.
‘We have had six or seven long years, on the go all the time with no break, the girls involved with club, inter-county and their colleges, it was non-stop so the break has done us good. The atmosphere is very good and we couldn’t be happier with where we are heading into Saturday.’
There were lots of positives from the semi-final – Laura Fitzgerald played her first game of the year and scored 5-3, Doireann O’Sullivan came through 45 minutes, the attack clicked and the defence coughed up very little.
‘We limited Éire Óg to very little and we were very pleased with that. In the couple of challenge games before we had conceded a bit so we worked hard on the defensive side,’ Ronayne said, before adding, ‘We were in a similar position before we won our first county to where West Cork are now, trying to get over the line, and the same with the All-Ireland, but you have to gain that experience.
‘West Cork are picking that up, they’ve been in the county final for the past two years and they know what they have to do.
‘Maybe it was a bit novel being in the final for the first few years, but they realise now it’s all about winning on the day of the final and that experience will stand to them.’