LAURA O’Mahony’s status as one of the county’s brightest emerging talents was rubberstamped lately.
The O’Donovan Rossa and West Cork rising star picked up a Rearden’s All-Star football award for her performances for her division that contested the county final for the first time.
‘It is great to finish the year with a Rearden’s All-Star especially when I am so young and doing my Leaving Cert,’ O’Mahony told The Southern Star.
‘This is something I have wanted because I have looked up to a lot of the inter-county players that have received those awards down through the years.
‘It has been tough going for me, to be honest, travelling a lot of miles to go (inter-county) training twice a week, training with my club and working three evenings as well. It is a lot to ask but I am used to it by now and know how to organise myself at this stage.’
O’Donovan Rossa’s capture of the 2018 county junior C title was an obvious highlight for O’Mahony. Playing in front of two large attendances in the drawn final and replay against Castlehaven added to Rossa’s achievement. ‘I took part in 64 training sessions and played a huge amount of matches this past year,’ she said.
‘Playing games is much more beneficial and that showed in our league and championship form. Our coaches were fantastic in organising all the training, games, providing us with statistics and just guiding the team to the county title. The management team had the exact same commitment levels as the players when it came to putting in the time and effort to make sure we were successful.’
Attendances at ladies’ club championship games rose during the past year as did the increasing numbers of girls getting involved in GAA for the first time. But O’Mahony believes ladies football still has a long way to go before gaining the respect it deserves.
‘Ladies football does not get the credit it deserves, not at all,’ the Cork and O’Donovan Rossa forward noted.
‘It seems that only the semi-finals and finals of our club championships attract big crowds. A lot more needs to be done to improve ladies football, overall. Mourneabbey won this year’s All-Ireland so that might encourage more people to get involved and start going to our club championship games.
‘I agree that things are improving but the fact the Cork women are winning and the men are not doing as well has probably helped our cause!’
O’Mahony’s selection on the West Cork divisional panel that reached the 2018 senior county final coincided some of the half-forward’s best performances or club and county. The divisional side is building momentum with each passing year and capable of improving over the next 12 months.
‘West Cork had never reached a county final so it was great to get there in my second year playing for the division,’ O’Mahony admitted.
‘Last year, when we lost the county semi-final to St Val’s was the first time I played proper, senior football and it was a big step up. To reach a county final, even though we lost to the new All-Ireland champions, shows that West Cork is going in the right direction and we have a lot to look forward to in 2019.’