IT’S seven years since Orla Cronin and Enniskeane won their last county adult title – and the Cork star feels the wait for the next one has gone on too long.
They’ve come close in the years since. In 2017 and 2019, Enniskeane lost county intermediate camogie finals, both times to neighbours Newcestown.
Now they’re back in their third intermediate decider in four years, determined to go one step further this Sunday when they take on Aghabullogue in Castle Road, Mahon (4pm throw-in).
‘I can’t believe it’s seven years since we won the county junior A championship in 2013. It feels like it was just the other day but a lot of time has passed since, and we’ve come to close to winning the intermediate in some seasons and in others we haven’t been close,’ Cronin said.
‘You learn from defeats but you can’t dwell on them either because you need to move forward too. Of course, they hurt and that motivates you because we know what it’s like to lose a county final and we don’t want to feel like that again. That will drive us on.’
In 2013 Cronin was a rising teenage star, already on the Cork senior panel, when Enniskeane beat Watergrasshill by 0-12 to 1-4 in the county junior A final. Cronin and Co had lost the county final by one point after a replay in 2012, but came back the following year to win it.
Against Watergrasshill in 2013, Enniskeane conceded a goal after 29 seconds but they stayed calm, regrouped and kicked on. Seven years later, the Enniskeane camogie team still doesn’t panic when backed into a corner, as evidenced in their recent championship wins against Blackrock and Fr O’Neills. In both games they found themselves in a tricky spot, especially 13 points down in the quarter-final against Blackrock, but they rallied to come through both. That shows their guts, character and spirit, but Cronin knows that they can’t afford to let Aghabullogue build a lead in Sunday’s final.
‘We did go down a few points against Fr O’Neills but it wasn’t as severe as the quarter-final against Blackrock,’ she said.
‘It’s something that we need to acknowledge going into Sunday’s final because we can’t afford to give a team like Aghabullogue a lead because we will be making life very hard for ourselves. It’s something we will focus in on and that we have to change. We need to keep our foot on the pedal and do what we do best.
‘It’s been encouraging that we have been able to come back against Fr O’Neills and Blackrock and finish the games so strongly but we can’t do that all the time either. We can’t let the same situation unfold again.’
It’s no surprise that Cronin is leading the charge for Enniskeane. The Cork centre forward hit 1-11 against Ballyhea, 0-10 against Blackrock and 0-7 against Fr O’Neills. Her inter-county class shows at intermediate level and this year, because of Covid-19 pushing the inter-county season to later in the year, she has been a lot more involved with Enniskeane – and she’s loving it.
‘I think every county player will agree and say it’s been brilliant to be able to spend more time with their club this season, and I feel exactly the same,’ four-time All-Ireland senior winner Cronin said.
‘It’s highlighted too how the GAA should look to make it two separate seasons, one for club and one for county. It might mean it’s a longer year but I think there are definitely ways that they can keep them separate.
‘It has made this year a lot more enjoyable for myself, and I have been able to spend time with my club that I wouldn’t have got in the past. It’s been brilliant to be able to dedicate the time to the team.
‘There are girls there that I have played with all the way up and now I am getting the chance to play with the younger girls who are coming through and that’s been really enjoyable. I’ve seen the talent and the potential that is coming through and it’s really encouraging.’
Enniskeane have momentum behind them, but they have been here before. In 2017 they lost 1-13 to 3-4 against Newcestown in the county intermediate final. Last season, the same opposition beat them by a single, agonising point, 2-9 to 2-8. Will it be third time lucky this Sunday? Cronin hopes so.
‘The girls have been playing unbelievably well this year. We have acknowledged things that we need to improve on collectively. Every year that you haven’t been successful you have to take things on board from that,’ Cronin explained.
‘One of the silver linings from this year is that we have been able to have everyone together, dedicated to the team. Having everyone around has helped morale and we are all working towards the same goal.
‘It’s been a nice journey for us together and it’s great to get back into another county final. It gives us a chance to rectify those losses that we have had in the last few years.
‘I think the dedication and the desire to fix the mistakes that we have made in the past has been very evident this year, so hopefully it works out for us.’
Fingers crossed, Enniskeane’s luck in county finals will change this Sunday.