Mourneabbey win was 'toughest game ever' - Donaghmoyne's Amanda Casey
All-Ireland Club Senior Ladies' Football Championship semi-final: Donaghmoyne Fontenoys (Monaghan) 1-8 Mourneabbey (Cork)
DONAGHMOYNE captain Amanda Casey has described Sunday’s epic All-Ireland Senior Club Championship semi-final win over Mourneabbey as the “toughest game we have probably every played”.
The defending champions had to call upon every last ounce of energy and experience to deny the Cork and Munster champions a third consecutive All-Ireland final appearance with two injury-time points from Cathriona McConnell and Cora Courtney to eke out a 1-8 to 1-6 win on home soil.
McConnell was not having the best of days in her club colours but, as she has done so many times before for this exceptional side, she took her chance with her first and only score of the game to subject Mourneabbey to defeat at the hands of Ulster opposition for the third successive year.
With the sides locked at 1-6 apiece and extra-time looming, Donaghmoyne won possession from a Mourneabbey kick-out and McConnell swung her left boot sweetly at the ball to send it sailing over the bar and put the champions into a slender one-point lead.
That score was a sucker punch for the Cork and Munster champions, who were eyeing a place in a third All-Ireland final in-a-row. From the resulting kick-out, Donaghmoyne won possession again, with Cora Courtney pointing this time to add the insurance point.
“I am just delighted and can’t believe it,” said midfielder Casey.
“It was the toughest game we probably have ever played. It took everything we had in our bodies to get over the line and thankfully we did and we are in an All-Ireland final and are delighted.”
Watch highlights of Donaghmoyne's win over Mourneabbey:
For 40 minutes of the game, Donaghmoyne played with 14 players but the visitors only hit two points during that time and from their 1-6, Mourneabbey’s goal was their only score from play. But Donaghmoyne also registered 13 wides over the course of the game and had to face a penalty, which goalkeeper Linda Martin brilliantly saved, denying Ciara O’Sullivan.
Losing sisters Fiona and Sharon Courtney to the sin bin over the course of the 60 minutes meant they had to dig even deeper but such is the bond in this team that they will do anything for each other: “I think, when you lose players like Sharon and Fiona, you have to double everything you are doing,” said Casey.
“When I saw Sharon going off, I thought ‘oh no’, but every girl did everything and more they had to keep going to bitter end and we fought all the way.”
“It was very like the game last year [the All-Ireland final between the sides] but home advantage was a massive thing. It didn’t go all our way and missed so many scores and last year was the same but Hazel [Kingham] stepped up last year and again this year with an important goal and only Hazel can get a goal when we need it so badly. That gave us a massive lift and game changed and we got lot hungrier.
“‘Teeny’ [Cathriona McConnell] has been our main scorer since we started winning and there is lot on pressure on her to get so many scores and it is good to see other girls step up and do that. She didn’t have best afternoon but she kept going and got that brilliant score.”
They now have an All-Ireland final to look forward to against Dublin side Foxrock Cabinteely on Sunday, December 4, a seventh decider in 12 years. They have yet to make it back-to-back All-Ireland titles, but they are hungrier now than ever to achieve that: “Every time we won an All-Ireland, we haven’t played well the next year,” said Casey.
“This year, we really want to go for it, to win two in-a-row and it would be amazing, but we know the task ahead and we are going to get the heads down next for the two weeks and focus on ourselves and what we do. Our focus is always hard work and dedication and that is what stands to us.”
Donaghmoyne: L Martin; J Geoghegan, F Courtney, A McElroy; H Kingham (1-0), S Courtney, J Courtney; A Casey (0-1), C Courtney (0-2); C McConnell (0-1), E McElroy, R Courtney; L Kerley (0-4, 0-3 frees), N Callan, L Garland; Subs: R Finnegan for L Garland (39).
Mourneabbey: M O’Sullivan; E Harrington, CA Stack, A O’Callaghan; E Coakley, R O’Sullivan, E Meaney; M O’Callaghan, A O’Sullivan; K Coakley, B O’Sullivan (1-0), C O’Sullivan; E Jack, D O’Sullivan (0-6 frees), S O’Callaghan; Subs: E Lane for A O’Callaghan (42), N O’Sullivan for E Jack (55).
Referee: N McCormack (Laois).