Mourneabbey are chasing a hat-trick of All-Ireland senior titles. Lorraine O’Sullivan/INPHO
Ready to Rock

Club championship heavyweights and fairytale Royals - today's All-Ireland semi-final showdowns

It’s Mourneabbey v Dunboyne and Kilkerrin-Clonberne v Donaghmoyne in the last four ties.

THREE OUT OF four clubs in the line-up are ones that have featured time and time again at this stage of the game in recent years.

The fourth is one on a simply magical journey, mirroring the 2021 exploits of its county.

Dunboyne will hope to keep the Royal fairytale going; its twin towers, Vikki Wall and Emma Duggan, eyeing another giant-killing as they take on the back-to-back All-Ireland champions, Mourneabbey, on Leeside.

Meanwhile, in Galway, ladies football powerhouses and regular business-end participants Kilkerrin-Clonberne and Donaghmoyne face off.

Today’s All Ireland senior club championship semi-finals [both 1pm] throw up two mouth-watering battles, that’s for sure.

Looking first to Leeside, the battle of Mourneabbey and Dunboyne is one which certainly captures the imagination.

Mourneabbey, under the watchful eye of new Cork boss Shane Ronayne, have enjoyed — and endured — a rollercoaster journey on the national stage in recent years. 

In December 2018, the Clyda outfit ended four years of hurt, heartbreak and near misses when they were crowned All-Ireland club champions for the very first time, after beating Foxrock-Cabinteely at Parnell Park.

The following November, they went back-to-back and got their hands on the Dolores Tyrrell Memorial Cup once again after a last-gasp win over Kilkerrin-Clonberne at the Gaelic Grounds. 

There was no All-Ireland series in 2020 due to the Covid-19 crisis, while the 2021 edition has seeped into 2022.

In the first year of the pandemic, Mourneabbey’s remarkable run in Cork came to an end as they relinquished their crown to West Cork. This November, they returned to the summit with a final victory over Éire Óg, before making it seven in-a-row Munster titles (there was no provincial championship in 20202) in a difficult run before Christmas.

After what feels like a lifetime away from the national stage in the All-Ireland series, they’re back.

“The champions from Cork want another title, but there’s new kids on the block,” as Jerome Quinn said in a video earlier this week. “The stars of 2021, Vikki Wall and Emma Duggan, did it for Meath. Now, they’re doing it for Dunboyne.”

vikki-wall-celebrates-at-the-final-whistle Vikki Wall celebrates Dunboyne's county final win. Bryan Keane / INPHO Bryan Keane / INPHO / INPHO

After halting Fox-Cab’s bid for seven in-a-row in Leinster and lifting their maiden provincial crown at senior level, the Meath club find themselves in uncharted territory.

All-Ireland junior champions in 2015 and intermediate victors in 2017, Dunboyne are now in the business end of the senior competition.

“Now, they go into the lions’ den,” Quinn continued, forecasting a cracker this afternoon.

In an interview with The42 over Christmas, Wall reflected on the knock-on effect of Meath’s historic Brendan Martin Cup win on her club crew, who are managed by Brendan Quinn.

Regardless of what happens today, it’s some story. As is that of Mourneabbey; back-boned by a host of O’Sullivans and scorer-in-chief Laura Fitzgerald.

It’s fair to say that home advantage may play a big factor, just like in the West where Kilkerrin-Clonberne play host to Donaghmoyne of Monaghan.

It was Fitzgerald who broke Kilerrin-Clonberne hearts in the dying seconds of the 2019 final, so they will certainly feel that they have unfinished business to attend to.

The dominant force in Galway over the past couple of years, they’re a side full of inter-county talent from the Ward and Divilly sisters — Nicola and Louise, and Olivia and Siobhan — to other former All-Ireland winning underage stars.

louise-ward Louise Ward of Kilkerrin-Clonberne. Tommy Dickson / INPHO Tommy Dickson / INPHO / INPHO

Having downed Mayo kingpins Carnacon in Connacht in recent years, Kilkerrin blazed through the province this time around. 

Donaghmoyne, on the other hand, were pushed all the way in Ulster, needing a replay to retain their crown against Bredagh of Down in December. The 19-in-a-row Monaghan champions also stuttered in the county too, but are certainly battle-hardened as a result.

Five-time All-Ireland senior champions and semi-finalists last time out in 2019, vastly-experienced Donaghmoyne are looking to get back to their first final since the 2016 win over Fox-Cab.

With 11 survivors from their starting team that day set to line out from the get-go again against Kilkerrin-Clonberne, it too will be a cracking encounter with the battle of Willie Ward and Francie Coleman on the line an intriguing one.

But only two of the four sides can prevail to the final, pencilled in for Saturday 29 January.

Will it be business as usual for the club championship heavyweights, or will the fairytale Royals shake things up once again?

Today’s All Ireland senior club championship semi-finals

  • Mourneabbey v Dunboyne, 1pm
  • Kilkerrin-Clonberne v Donaghmoyne, 1pm

*First-named team have home advantage, both games live and free on the Ladies Gaelic Football Association’s Facebook Page.

  • You can read the LGFA previews and get team news here>


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