By DAIRE WALSH
Just over five years on from their last overseas fixture, Abbie O’Mahony and the Glanmire ladies footballers once again find themselves on English soil this weekend.
Following their recent triumphs in the Cork and Munster second-tier finals, the Riverstown outfit booked their place in the quarter-final of the currentaccount.ie All-Ireland Intermediate Club Championship. Providing opposition to the Leesiders in the last-eight of the national competition at McGovern Park, Ruislip this afternoon (throw-in 12pm) are London’s Tir Chonaill Gaels – winners of the All-Britain Intermediate Football title at the expense of Dunedin Connollys from Edinburgh earlier this month.
Coincidentally, the venue for that game, Páirc na hÉireann in Birmingham, was also where Glanmire took on the Coventry-based Roger Casements in an All-Ireland junior championship quarter-final on November 3, 2018.
“We’re all looking forward to it now, to be fair. We got to go to Coventry a couple of years back. I feel like it’s a good bonding opportunity and to play the match as well, it’s great to have gotten this far with it. We don’t know too much about them (Tir Chonaill Gaels). We’re trying to focus as much on ourselves as possible as well,” O’Mahony explained.
“We’re definitely going to give it our all and hopefully come out with good results. I remember the Coventry team back in 2018, they were great athletes. Obviously at this stage of the competition there’s no match that is going to come easy.
“I’ve never been to London anyway and I’d say a good few of the girls can say the same. It’ll be great. We know that the focus is on the game and to obviously enjoy whatever comes our way.”
Like their fellow Cork club O’Donovan Rossa – who have an away outing against Glasgow Gaels at the same stage of the All-Ireland junior grade later on today – Glanmire undertook a fundraising mission ahead of their visit to the English capital. This isn’t always an easy endeavour, but the local community were very quick to row in behind O’Mahony and her team-mates.
“We were lucky with the funding we’ve gotten from a few different committees, but we also set up a Go Fund Me page and that has been doing great. We’re very grateful for all the support we’ve been getting. It has been brilliant.”
First established in 2000 to facilitate the growing number of girls in the area that were interested in playing football, Glanmire LGFC started out with just one functioning team, but now have more than 12 competing in a variety of different grades. Although there is also a Glanmire GFC in the area — who include the late, great Cork dual star Teddy McCarthy amongst their list of former players – this is an entirely separate entity to the ladies football outfit.
Yet despite operating independently of each other, O’Mahony acknowledged that there has always been a good relationship between both of Glanmire’s clubs.
“We’re still our own separate clubs, but I think there is a mutual respect there. We kind of drive each other on in our own ways. Obviously the background committees then, they’d work well with each other. From what I can see from the outside, it’s working well.
“Glanmire is huge and it’s only getting bigger. It’s great to see the interest there in the ladies football. I couldn’t see it stopping, I’d say it will just keep going. A lot more young ones to come up through. It will only add to the panel and the competition that is there. We’re looking forward to it, the only way is up!”
While still just 17 years of age, O’Mahony played a key role in Glanmire’s triple success of 2018. Having helped her club to claim county and provincial honours prior to that showdown with Roger Casements, O’Mahony scored a point from midfield as the Cork women defeated Sligo’s Tourlestrane in the currentaccount.ie All-Ireland junior championship final at Duggan Park in Ballinasloe.
They were eager to push on in the intermediate ranks and following three consecutive final reversals – Clonakilty, Valley Rovers and Castlehaven were the teams to get the better of them – Glanmire finally earned promotion to the top-tier of the Cork LGFA with a dramatic one-point victory against Naomh Abán on October 7.
Now far more experienced than she was for that 2018 run, O’Mahony believes the continuous influx of underage players into the team helped them to finally get over the line in the intermediate championship at the fourth time of asking.
“The younger girls, they’ve really brought so much energy to the panel. It’s so refreshing to see the younger ones coming through and being able to bring what they do to the squad. I think there’s just such a healthy competition there. We were talking about Coventry five years ago, we were still a new enough club.
“We mightn’t have had the numbers there before, but obviously the numbers are there now and everyone is willing to fight for their place. There’s great competition in the camp the way it is. That really drives us forward and I think everyone has this mutual respect that, whoever is on the field, they give it 100%.”
A recent graduate from MTU’s Crawford College of Art and Design, O’Mahony has also been a part of the Cork senior panel since 2020. She finished her debut season as a substitute for the Rebelettes’ TG4 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship final loss to Dublin in a behind-closed-doors encounter at Croke Park.
She has made a number of appearances in the three seasons that have followed and while Cork were second best to the Jackies in the semi-final of this year’s Brendan Martin Cup, O’Mahony is still quite encouraged about where Shane Ronayne’s squad is at on the whole.
“Even though it was quite disappointing, I feel like there were a lot of positives with it. I feel like there was a big change over this year. We did gel together quite quickly and we did very well in the league,” O’Mahony added.
“Winning Munster and then going into the All-Ireland semi-final, it was a great success overall, but obviously we’re on the Cork panel for a reason. We’re a bunch of competitive girls, so we’re not going to settle for that as well and we’ll be looking forward to driving on in the new year.”Tweet