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Third All-Ireland final defeat in four years - Mourneabbey return to the house of pain once more

Carnacon were crowned the All-Ireland Ladies senior club champions for 2017.

THE MOURNEABBEY LADIES team have walked this road before.

Sile O'Callaghan and Emma Coakley dejected Mourneabbey's Sile O'Callaghan and Emma Coakley after losing out to Donaghmoyne in the 2015 All-Ireland final. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

They know how to reach the cusp of All-Ireland senior success, but figuring out how to take the next step continues to evade them.

Defeat has visited them in every All-Ireland series since they won their first senior county title in Cork four years ago.

Donegal side Termon intervened when they made their first appearance in an All-Ireland senior final in 2014. Five points separated the sides that day as star forward Geraldine McLaughlin plundered them for 3-8.

The Clyda-based club navigated their way back to the final in 2015, only for Donaghmoyne (Monaghan) to deny them on the way to collecting their fourth All-Ireland title.

The teams collided again in last year’s championship, with the Monaghan champions edging out the battle again at the semi-final stage with two points to spare in the end.

After defeating 2016 runners-up Foxrock Cabinteely last month courtesy of an extra-time goal from the boot of Laura Fitzgerald, Mourneabbey were back in an All-Ireland decider.

But sport never shows compassion and success is not determined by the number of hardships that have been absorbed.

It must be earned.

And against five-time All-Ireland champions Carnacon, a side that features inter-county talents including Cora Staunton, Fiona McHale and Marth Carter, Mourneabbey’s quest to avenge the hurt that has accumulated over the last four years failed.

They chased the game for much of the contest, with their Mayo opponents holding a three-point lead at the break. Carnacon stretched that out to eight points as the second half progressed.

To Mourneabbey’s credit, they cut the deficit to three at one stage following a goal from team captain Bríd O’Sullivan, which she created for herself with an incisive run through the Carnacon cover.

Cora Staunton with Aisling O’Sullivan of Mourneabbey at the final whistle Defeat and triumph just a few yards apart. Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

But despite the heart they showed on the pitch, it couldn’t account for Carnacon’s two-point advantage at the full-time whistle, and so, their wait for an All-Ireland triumph trundles on into 2018.

Players from both teams were carrying some inter-county baggage into this final. 11-time All-Ireland winners Cork were dumped out of the All-Ireland championship by Mayo this season in a thrilling semi-final encounter.

Doireann O'Sullivan dejected at the end of the game Cork's Doireann O'Sullivan after Cork were defeated by Mayo in the All-Ireland semi-final. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Mourneabbey’s O’Sullivan sisters Ciara and Doireann were both in action as the county suffered its first All-Ireland championship defeat since losing out to Tyrone in the 2010 All-Ireland quarter-final.

Meanwhile, Staunton, McHale and Carter among a strong Carnacon contingent progressed to the All-Ireland final where their dreams of bringing the Brendan Martin cup back to Mayo for the first time since 2003 were dashed by a seasoned Dublin team.

Winning a senior club All-Ireland title would certainly have cushioned the agony of those inter-county disappointments for either set of players, and it was Carnacon who profited from the opportunity in Parnell Park on Sunday evening.

Sport doesn’t show compassion, and Mourneabbey must return to the house of pain once again.

The Cork club previously won All-Ireland gongs at junior (2005) and intermediate (2007) level, meaning that a senior crown would make them the first Ladies team to win the clean sweep.

But that aspect of their journey seems like more of a footnote at this point, considering the pain they have suffered in trying to win that elusive third All-Ireland.

The42 has just published its first book, Behind The Lines, a collection of some of the year’s best sports stories. Pick up your copy in Eason’s, or order it here today (€10):

A rip-roaring contest but only one winner – The rise to a second All-Ireland title in 3 years

‘It’s a great feeling’: A sixth All-Ireland title to add to 16 Connacht and 19 Mayo crowns

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