O’DONOVAN Rossa were denied a Cork LGFA U21B county title by Naomh Abán in Páirc Uí Rinn on bank holiday Monday.
The West Cork club travelled to the city for a decider originally scheduled to be part of a Cork LGFA county final double-header, but Castlehaven and Nemo Rangers’ U21C final was postponed due to a bereavement in the Castlehaven area.
O’Donovan Rossa had overcome St Val’s 1-13 to 3-6 in the quarter-finals before seeing off Ballinora 6-7 to 1-14 in a pulsating last-four encounter. Munster LGFA Young Player of the Year Lia Hogan scored 3-4 in Rossa’s semi-final victory.
Facing O’Donovan Rossa was a Naomh Abán team that had proven equally clinical en route to this year’s county final. Dispatching Valley Rovers 2-13 to 0-4, Kinsale 2-11 to 0-7 and Dohenys 3-12 to 0-6, Naomh Abán began Monday’s encounter as favourites to lift the trophy.
A tight first half ended with the scores level thanks to a Lia Hogan goal for Skibbereen, 0-4 to 1-1. The second half belonged to Naomh Abán however, who added four points and two well-taken goals to run out 2-8 to 1-3 U21C county final winners.
Lia Hogan (1-2) and Aoife O’Driscoll scored for a disappointed O’Donovan Rossa team that mentor Michael McCarthy felt were defeated by a Naomh Abán better side.
‘We were beaten by a better team on the day,’ McCarthy admitted to The Southern Star.
‘The girls didn’t do themselves justice. It is important to make a U21 county final but you want to perform when you get there too. We felt we didn’t perform to the level we are capable of and were not as competitive as we should have been.
‘It was great to get there but county finals are there to be won. O’Donovan Rossa was well beaten on the day and that was disappointing.’
Despite the loss, Skibbereen’s path to a U21 county decider coupled with the emergence of quality players from the U16 and minor ranks means the West Cork club remains in a healthy state.
‘Our first day out against St Val’s was the first time this team had played together,’ McCarthy explained.
‘We picked things up significantly for our semi-final against Ballinora. They are a fine team we did well to beat. We expected to kick on from there but unfortunately, we came up against a very good Naomh Abán team in the final.
‘They had their homework done on us. We are a strong running team that carries the ball. They played a very defensive system and restricted us to four scores after being quite prolific in our other two games. Naomh Abán counter-attacked very well and it was a system we struggled to break down.’
O'Donovan Rossa: Eabha Lucey; Kate O’Donovan, Eadaoin Fitzgerald, Anna Carroll; Sarah Hurley, Emer McCarthy (captain), Emily Byrne; Jessica Beechinor, Mallaidh O’Neill; Sharon Beechinor, Triona Murphy, Aine McCarthy; Eimear Byrne, Lia Hogan, Amy McCarthy.
Subs: Tara O’Regan, Jennifer Keating, Mary Whooley, Leah Fitzgerald, Amy O’Driscoll, Elaine O’Donovan, Lauren McCarthy, Millie Coakley, Allie Tobin, Ruby O’Donovan, Aoife O’Driscoll, Eabha O’Donovan, Emma Connolly, Ruby Byrne, Niamh O’Sullivan, Holly Brickley.
Management: James O’Mahony, Karina Conway, Ger O’Brien, George Lane, Michael McCarthy.