Kinsale’s elevation to the Cork ladies senior football ranks marks the culmination of many years hard work both on and off the pitch by the Carrigdhoun-based club wrties the Evening Echo’s Ger McCarthy.
Last weekend’s Cork Ladies IFC decider doubled as a West Cork senior final and saw Kinsale edge Rosscarbery in a thrilling encounter at Newcestown. The quality of football on display, a bumper attendance and hat-tricks from Kinsale’s Sadhbh O’Leary plus Ross’s Laura McMahon only served to underline the view that club football remains in a healthy state throughout the county.
From the newly crowned double-champions point of view, elevation to the senior ranks has been a gradual process. Yet, a cursory glance at Kinsale’s current playing numbers from U6 through to their first team shows that ladies football has never been more popular within the progressive club.
Kinsale ladies GAA club was set up back in 2001 and has grown steadily over the past 16 years. Beginning with U12 and U14 teams, Kinsale now cater for girls as young as U6 right up to the senior squad. 2012 proved a memorable year with Kinsale claiming the U12, U14 and U16 West Cork championships before the U14’s rounded off a productive campaign by adding the county title.
The following year proved an equally important period in the fledgling club’s history with four girls making it on to Cork inter-county teams. Orla Finn became a mainstay with the Cork seniors; Joan Tyner made her debut for the Cork minors while Sadhbh O’Leary and Georgia Gould togged out for the Cork U14’s.
For Kinsale’s younger playing members, having the likes of Cork inter-county stars Sadhbh O’Leary and Orla Finn to look up to has been an added bonus in recent times.
Amongst all the accolades Finn has enjoyed whilst wearing the red jersey of Cork, her joy at playing a part in Kinsale’s recent double-victory and attaining seniors status was apparent immediately after the final whistle.
“We are absolutely delighted with that result (against Rosscarbery) and becoming a senior club, it is unbelievable,” Finn stated.
“We made hard work of it even though we were well ahead at the start of the second half before Ross came back into it again. They got a few goals and we were guilty of dropping the pace for a little bit too.
“Thankfully, in the end, Sadhbh got a third and vital goal; she scored all three on the night so fair play to her. She was outstanding and has always been fantastic for us but the whole team deserves credit for helping get such an important win tonight.
“Becoming a senior ladies football club is absolutely unbelievable. To go from junior to senior in just over a year is a great feeling for everyone involved. Looking ahead, it will be a fantastic boost for the club to be involved in competitive senior matches next year.
“We have reached the top level of ladies football in Cork now and even though we are a very young bunch of players, the experience will be vital for all the younger girls coming through.
“Things are going really well within the club right now and we have girls representing Cork at U14, U16 and minor. I’m sure some of those girls will make it on to the senior squad in the coming years and it is just great to see them coming through.”
Manager Eugene O’Callaghan echoed the sentiments of his inter-county forward in the immediate aftermath of Kinsale’s Cork ladies IFC triumph. Aided by a backroom team comprising of Michael O’Connor, Siobhan Ní Núnáin, Ger Finn and Chris Cronin, O’Callaghan was thrilled to see his players’ hard work rewarded with a deserved county final win.
“It is teamwork, from start to finish, that has gotten us here,” Eugene O’Callaghan commented.
“This means so much because we have so many young girls coming up who want to play football for Kinsale and now we are able to provide them with a senior club setup. I can tell you that we have some very talented girls in our underage ranks and when you consider our youngest player in the victory over Rosscarbery was Faye Ahern, is just 15 years, then the future is bright.”