By DAIRE WALSH
Mourneabbey manager Shane Ronayne says his players finally peaked on the big occasion and as a result the All-Ireland senior club title was inevitable at the fourth attempt.
The Cork champions had lost three of the last four finals but Doireann O’Sullivan’s brilliance and a goal from Laura Fitzgerald were decisive in a stunning six-point win (1-13 to 1-7) over Foxrock-Cabinteely at Parnell Park on Saturday.
Mourneabbey played with a strong breeze at their backs and were 1-12 to 1-3 ahead at half-time despite Fiona Claffey’s goal. And they only needed one point in the second half to secure their first Dolores Tyrrell Memorial Cup.
“They performed to their potential today. We said if we got a performance out of them we’d win. That’s what they focused on. We didn’t focus about winning, we didn’t think about the result. If we performed, we’d get the outcome we want,” said Ronayne.
“That was the big thing, they performed today. The previous finals we’ve sat back and we’ve been too defensive. Today they expressed themselves and they were outstanding.”
Mourneabbey were edged out by Carnacon in last year’s final and also lost the 2014 and ’15 finals, but they took an 0-8 to 0-1 lead early.
All-Star sisters Doireann and Ciara O’Sullivan tormented the Foxrock-Cabinteely defence and once Emma McDonagh was sent to the sin-bin in the fifth minute, the Munster champions took complete control.
“That was a big help to us but we did go after their kick-out and we had even before Emma went off,” said Ronayne.
“I was talking about maybe two points each after 15 minutes, and we were 0-8 to 0-1 up. We knew we were in a good place and at half-time we spoke about kicking on.
“We didn’t want to play defensive. The ball handling was just brilliant. They kept it simple and I think that was the key to it.”
Claffey hit back with a goal before half-time but the 2016 beaten finalists couldn’t recover in time. And Foxrock-Cabinteely manager Pat Ring believed Fitzgerald’s goal killed the game before his team got a foothold.
“We knew what was going to happen, but we just seemed to be at sixes and sevens for the first ten minutes until we sorted it out,” said Ring.
“Then they got a goal. We responded very well and got a goal back, but the damage was done. It was done too early. You can plan as best you can, but we have to execute it.
“We were beaten by a far better team. There’s no arguments there.”