Ger McCarthy recalls his sporting highlight from 2018
SOME of the best GAA matches I reported on over the past 12 months occurred in the Cork ladies’ senior football championship.
One of the most heartening aspects of covering a sport enjoying a surge in popularity both at underage and senior level – especially here in West Cork – has been a noticeable increase in the number of people going to watch ladies football championship matches.
Granted, attendances are not what they should be considering the quality of players on display.
Yet, one glance at the crowds that flocked to Clonakilty and Dunmanway to witness two cracking O’Donovan Rossa and Castlehaven county junior C football championship final encounters was further proof of how popular ladies football is becoming.
Add to that, the huge crowds that filled the stands at CIT and Cloughduv’s grounds for the Mourneabbey versus West Cork ladies’ senior county finals and you know things are moving in the right direction.
It is not that surprising when you consider how entertaining ladies football is compared to its male equivalent. The absence of massed defences coupled with team’s willingness to focus on attack rather than getting numbers behind the ball are also contributory factors to a more enjoyable spectacle.
Increased media coverage has also helped to the point the official GAA Twitter account tweeted out the following on the day of this year’s All-Ireland football finals at Croke Park: ‘Another record broken! The attendance at the 2018 All-Ireland ladies’ finals is 50,141!! That’s almost 4,000 more than the turnout for the 2017 deciders.’
West Cork is fortunate to have so many clubs actively promoting ladies football from grassroots to senior level.
Kinsale are one of the most progressive when it comes to fielding girls and ladies’ football teams. 2018 proved a chastening year following their move up to the senior grade. Shipping a couple of heavy group defeats, Kinsale bounced back to win the county senior B championship. Bantry Blues and Fermoy were dispatched before overwhelming Inch Rovers in the decider.
Dohenys may have endured county B final heartache for the third straight final but remain a force at local level. O’Donovan Rossa and Castlehaven deserve huge credit for the quality of their two-game county final encounters while the likes of Bandon, Rosscarbery, Bantry Blues and Clonakilty are amongst a clutch of West Cork clubs enjoying unprecedented demand at underage level.
In terms of my personal sporting highlight, that occurred 15 minutes into this year’s Cork LGFA SFC county final replay. Mourneabbey and West Cork were going toe to toe at Cloughduv’s marvellous venue when I motioned to C103’s Paudie Palmer who was sitting next to me on the sideline.
Quarter of an hour into a ladies’ football championship game and there was a long line of cars and supporters streaming into the venue. The stand was already full and contributing to a cracking atmosphere. Neither Mr Palmer nor I could remember witnessing such a scene at a ladies’ GAA game.
Bottom line, ladies football is on the up and it was a privilege to report on so many entertaining games this year.