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One final step for Glanmire

Wednesday, 5th December, 2018 4:40pm

At the beginning of the year, the notion of contesting an All-Ireland Final was nothing but a dream for the Glanmire Junior Ladies Football team.

Fast forward 11 months and the East Cork side are set to play in Sunday's final after picking up county and Munster cups so far this year.

Manager Dave Carey spoke to the Cork Independent about his side's chances in Sunday's game, while reflecting on the perfect season, so far.

“It's mad!” Carey's first reaction to his side's game on Sunday where they are within 60 minutes of being crowned the All-Ireland champions.

“You'd hope for it, an All-Ireland Final, but was just a dream for us. We won the Junior B County last year and I thought we'd have a good idea alright of taking the A title this year.

“If you manage to get that far, then I'd have certainly given the girls every chance of progressing through Munster and further and that's where we are now.”

This Glanmire side haven't just had training and games to contend with, nine of the team sat their Leaving Certificate in the summer while just one of the team who started the All-Ireland Semi-Final win was over 21, Ellen Murphy, and even Ellen herself is still in her early twenties.

“We've a very young side, so what we don't have in experience we make up for in enthusiasm and hard work. Even the girls who were doing their Leaving Cert trained the whole way through, this is a seriously young side. Four of the girls played with the Cork minors this year as well so I knew the talent was there – they are an absolutely super bunch and the atmosphere among them is brilliant.”

After winning the Munster Final, Carey's side traveled to Birmingham where they played Roger Casements, with their semi-final spot easily secured thanks to a 5-21 to 1-1 win. Although the scoreline may not suggest it, the trip he says, was more than worthwhile.

“The game obviously wasn't much of a contest but the trip was great for the girls – it was a real bonding experience and really made the team stronger; it was worth going over for that alone.”

The final scoreline for the semi-final, against Tri Leac C Naomh Mhic Artáin of Tyrone, suggest the game was certainly a tighter contest with Glanmire winning 2-13 to 2-8. Ahead at one point by 13 points, the Tyrone side managed to pull Glanmire back before the Cork girls took the win – another worthwhile game for very different reasons, says Carey.

“We definitely took the positives out of that game because we took the foot off the pedal and they managed to row us back in a bit. That can happen when you've such a strong lead, so the girls had to dig deep and they kept them at bay and we got the win, but I was glad it happened that way because we learned not to do that again.

“We also played a challenge against UCC last week and the girls lost fairly heavily alright but that was to be expected, UCC are basically a senior intercounty side, they've so many good players, and it gave the girls a serious challenge and showed them what they would be up against – I was happy with it because I actually thought the girls played well.

“That's the level of football they are striving for, the speed of the game and the speed of thought they'll have to work for, they will need all that for Sunday because we're certainly up against it.”

Sunday's opposition Tourlestrane are from Sligo and include All-Star footballer Katie Walsh in their ranks – a factor Carey is only too aware of.

“We have to contain her, there's no doubt about that; she can kick from her left foot, her right foot, she has everything. We're not too familiar with them but we've done everything we can do to prepare for Sunday. It's going to be a fast, physical game and the girls will have to come back and defend also, it's going to be tough!”

Carey, for his part has been with this group since they were ten years old. From Cork city and a St Finbarr's man growing up, he approached club chairman Michael Hannon and asked was there anything he could do to help out with coaching, to which Hannon handed Carey the the reins to 44 kids.

Almost a decade later, that crop of kids are on the cusp of All-Ireland glory and Carey, clearly, deserves huge plaudits for his work with the Glanmire Ladies Football club.

Along with Carey, who has been manager of the junior side for two years, former intercounty footballer Geraldine O'Flynn has been coaching the side and is the “special ingredient” he says: “She has brought us to a whole new level, her work with the team has been huge.”

Carey was also fulsome in his praise for the male clubs in the area, the Glanmire footballers and Sarsfields hurling club who are only too happy to share their limelight as the kingpins of Cork GAA over the last decade with their female football counterparts.

“There's a real community spirit there in Glanmire,” says Carey. “I have to give a mention to Michael again and his wife Winnie as well as the club committee who have all helped us every step of the way. Sunday is a dream so let's see how it goes, we'll give it every shot,” concludes Carey.

Glanmire play Tourlestrane in the All-Ireland Ladies Football Junior Final. Throw-in in Duggan Park on Sunday is at 2.30pm.

Meanwhile Mourneabbey will play in the All-Ireland Senior Ladies Football Club Final on Saturday, throw-in against Foxrock Cabinteely at Parnell Place is at 5.15pm.

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