Eoin Brennan previews Scariff Ogonnelloe’s Munster Camogie Championship battle with Iniscarra
With the last three Munster winners vying for honours, the 2021 Munster Senior Camogie Club Championship is set to be the ultimate battle of the champions over the next fortnight.
With Drom & Inch pipping Inagh-Kilnamona to the post to eventually claim the 2020 version only six weeks earlier, the Tipperary champions will understandably be favourites to complete a unique back-to-back in such an unprecedentedly short period.
The Mid-Tipp side commence their title defence with a semi-final showdown against Limerick champions Newscastle West on home soil this Saturday at 1pm.
Equally as significant however is the penultimate stage clash of the 2018 and ’19 provincial victors Inniscarra and Scariff-Ogonnelloe at the same time in Ballyanly, a historic occasion as it’s the first time that the East Clare combo have faced Cork opposition competitively.
Far from being an unknown entity though, Inniscarra also overcame Inagh-Kilnamona in a Munster Final in Leahy Park in Cashel three years previously and Scariff-Ogonnelloe manager David Sullivan is acutely aware of the threat they pose.
“We’ve done our homework as best we can but being the Cork representatives, we know how tough a challenge it’s going to be. They have two or three marquee forwards so we’ll have to pay good attention to them and try and stamp them out similar to what we did against Truagh-Clonlara and hope then that we’ll have enough at the other end to win the game.”
Those marquee forwards include Joanne Casey and Aileen Sheehan while Katie O’Mahoney has also been a driving force for midfield for Inniscarra.
However, the main difference between 2018 and 2021 is that Inniscarra go into Munster, not as champions, this time around, having been beaten by divisional side Seandún in the county final in October by 2-11 to 0-13.
Already without 18 time Al-Ireland Senior winner Rena Buckley who is expecting a baby, the near three month gap can’t have been helpful for a regretful Inniscarra. However with home advantage, Sullivan is still very wary of the challenge that lies ahead on Saturday.
“Regardless of who won the Cork final, it was their sixth successive final appearance and they have been Munster champions themselves in 2018 so they have a very good pedigree.
“Essentially, you’ll have two very good experienced teams on Saturday who have won Munster finals so it’s one to really look forward to.
“It will be a dogfight and we’re not expecting it to be anything else as whatever about playing in a neutral venue, when you’re traveling to Cork to face them in their own backyard, it adds that little bit extra to the game.”
“Obviously it’s a big advantage to them as they only have to turn up whereas we will be traveling for two hours. But to have the likes of Holly McGee and Aisling Corry back on the squad following their Erasmus abroad has been a great boost and overall we’ve a great mix of youth and experience.
“I also think the younger girls have made such an impression on our panel this year, the likes of Abby Walsh, Labhaoise [O’Donnell] and Bonny [Wiley Murphy] have come in and almost rejuvenated the older girls as well by bringing that fresh impetus onto the panel.
“The senior girls have also relished that and it has almost spurred them on to be better themselves in order to match the younger girls’ energy and enthusiasm as well.”
If indeed the Tipperary native’s pronouncement comes to pass and Saturday’s penultimate stage clash becomes a war of attrition, then the character shown in the epic final series with Truagh-Clonlara in November should stand to his side according to Sullivan.
“That was the most pleasing thing about the Clare championship really, that when we were on the ropes a couple of times, we never panicked.
“We were embroiled in a dogfight with Inagh-Kilnamona in Kilmaley in a semi-final that ebbed and flowed and of course the two finals with Truagh-Clonlara as well.
“There were times when it seemed that we had the game lost and times where we felt that we had it won but just the character and resilience shown by the girls to roll with the punches, never ever give up, not to panic and stay chipping away was remarkable.”
“I mean we were under fierce pressure in the replay for the first ten or 15 minutes and we probably lucky to be still in the contest at that stage but the girls hung in there and once they sorted themselves out and got going, they were very good.
“So we won’t panic on Saturday regardless of what happens. That’s the one thing about this team, whatever start we make whether its a good one or a bad one, we’ll stay plugging away for the 60 plus minutes as these girls don’t stop going until the final whistle.”