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The GAA Review of the Year: Part 2

Wednesday, 19th December, 2018 4:51pm

As we moved into JULY both Cork senior and intermediate camogie teams remained on course to advance to their respective All-Ireland semi-finals, and with the minor title already a resident on Leeside, a treble was coming into focus.

In Ladies Football, Cork regained their Munster Championship and were heading to the All-Ireland series with confidence.

There was a perfect start to the month as the senior hurlers produced a stunning display on a scorching afternoon in Thurles to retain the Munster title, a goal by Luke Meade on the stroke of half-time was the catalyst for a second half comeback to see off Clare.

No joy for the footballers, though, who were overpowered by Tyrone in Portlaoise, and with that heavy defeat, it was season over.

In the immediate aftermath, Donnacha O’Connor called time on his intercounty career, not the way the Ballydesmond man would have wanted to, but he did so with the grace and class in which he played the game.

Earlier in the season, injury forced the talented forward Colm O’Neill to retire from the game, what an impact the Ballyclough man left on the game.

There was a Munster double in hurling as Cork beat Tipperary comfortably in Páirc Uí Chaoimh to claim the under 21 title, but it would come back to bite us as the season progressed.

Limited club activity resumed on the football front but no real shocks as the big guns all progressed safely to Round 3.

The Super 8’s in football moved on without any great deal of excitement, a few one sided encounters, while the ‘Newbridge or nowhere’ catchphrase took centre stage.

Somewhat surprisingly Kerry and Mayo failed to advance. Eamonn Fitzmaurice stepped aside, and even though he looked set to be re-appointed, Stephen Rochford also left Mayo, with James Horan making a return.

Mark Coleman, who won a Munster hurling double, won the 96FM/C103 Sports Star Award.

 

AUGUST

Semi-final time in Croke Park and once again drama over a weekend that drained the emotions of everyone. On Saturday it was the turn of Clare and Galway and eventually the then champions prevailed.

Sunday and it was Cork and Limerick. With Cork in control approaching half-time, referee Paudie Dwyer overlooks a blatant foul on a Cork defender, Limerick get a goal.

Cork though hit back in the second half; Conor Lehane scored a brilliant goal, and when Darragh Fitzgibbon hit a spectacular point Cork six ahead, the final beckoned.

However Limerick hit back, took the lead and only a brilliant long range free from Patrick Horgan forced extra-time.

But the Rebels were a spent force. Injury to key players eventually took its toll and Limerick marched into the final, in a confident mood. In football, Dublin march on as Mickey Harte’s Tyrone joined them in the final.

A week after the seniors' defeat the under 21s demolished Wexford to set up a final meeting with Tipperary, a repeat of the Munster Final, while St Finbarrs dual star Robert O’Mahoney was the 96FM/C103 Sports Star Award winner.

 

SEPTEMBER

In football Dublin won the four-in-a-row, and the frowns among Kerry folk grow as the fifth successive title comes into focus.

Orla Cotter drilled a massive free from under the Hogan Stand straight between the posts and Cork retained the O’Duffy Cup, defeating old rivals Kilkenny by a single point, the ideal way to beat the wearers of the black and amber, and for her heroics, Orla was the winner of the 96FM/C103 Sports Star winner.

On the same day Cork beat Down to complete the double, but unfortunately the Ladies Footballers just come up short as Dublin retain their crown.

There was major disappointment for the under 21 hurlers as a late goal sees Tipperary exact revenge for the Munster Final loss to claim the All-Ireland title as Cork play poorly yet could, and should, have won.

 

OCTOBER

There was also county final wins for Fermoy, Cill Na Martra and Dromtarriffe in football, while in hurling there was glory for Charleville, Ballincollig and Cloughduv.

Inniscarra make in three-in-a-row in camogie, while Mourneabbey retained their grip on the Ladies Football crown and Ian Maguire won the 96FM/C103 Sports Star Award.

 

NOVEMBER

All-Star awards are won in three grades with Darragh Fitzgibbon, Patrick Horgan and Seamus Harnedy in hurling, in camogie, Aoife Murray, Pamela Mackey, Hannah Looney, Chloe Sigerson, Gemma O’Connor (her eleventh), Orla Cotter and Katrina Mackey are honoured while Paudie Murray is named manager of the year. The Ladies Footballers picked up four awards as the O’Sullivan sisters, Doireann and Ciara, were joined by Emma Spillane and Roisin Phelan.

Kevin O’Donovan was named as the new County Secretary/CEO, replacing Frank Murphy who retired after 46 years in the role, while Ger Ahern from Cloughduv is the 96FM/C103 Sports Star Award winner and Liam Sheehy returns as the Tipperary Senior Hurling Manager.

 

DECEMBER

Under 21 hurling honours come the way of Bride Rovers and Fr O’Neills, as Nemo Rangers and Sarfields win the respective senior league titles.

Sadly during the year some outstanding GAA people were called to their eternal reward and we extend our sincere sympathy to the families of all those who lost loved one.

As this is my final column of the year, my thanks to all who were of assistance to me during another hectic season.

Special thanks to all at the Cork Independent who give me the extra few hours to get copy in, really appreciate it.

Thanks also to all players, club and intercounty, management of teams, club officials and board officers for their help and co-operation all year, making my job that bit easier. Have a happy and peaceful Christmas and may 2019 be another great year on and off the field.

Corcaigh Abú.

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