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

Joint manager Beatrice Casey was over the moon after Carnacon’s All-Ireland senior club final win yesterday.

Carnacon celebrate after the match One big family: Carnacon players, management and some supporters after the win. Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

SIX ALL-IRELAND TITLES, 16 Connacht crowns, 19 times county champions, and every single one in the senior grade.

Since their inception in 1986, Carnacon have been a force to be reckoned with. And they proved it once again yesterday.

In their first All-Ireland decider since their last win in 2013, they faced the challenge of 2014 and 2015 finalists Mourneabbey.

The Cork outfit were gunning for this. It was their fourth consecutive year to get out of Munster and into the All-Ireland series. There was a real sense that this was going to be it.

With a host of experienced names from Cora Staunton to Fiona McHale, Martha Carter to Claire Egan as well as many others, Carnacon went into the Parnell Park clash as the bookies favourites though.

And they made that experience tell.

The Mourneabbey players have said it themselves, they didn’t show up for the first half. The game was slow to start, cagey and defensive, moulding into a fierce tactical battle.

Martha Carter with Eimear Harrington Martha Carter in action. Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

One which Carnacon unlocked first, well and truly coming to the fore in the moments before and after half-time.

They raced into an eight-point lead, one which they well could have extended, before Mourneabbey finally clicked for a fightback.

“It was a huge battle,” manager Beatrice Casey told The42 afterwards, basking in the glory alongside family and friends.

“We knew they were going to put it up to us. There were times probably earlier on in the game that we could have pulled away a little bit more but I suppose it made for all the drama and the excitement at the end.

“We left it down to the wire. But I think we never felt under pressure because we always had more in the tank if we needed it. It made for a good game, a good one for the supporters. It’s great for the game.”

Casey has been there from the very start of Carnacon, working closely alongside the one and only Jimmy Corbett.

They’re ‘the heartbeat of the club’ and ‘everything Carnacon is about,’ as Staunton said in her speech after she lifted the Dolores Tyrrell Memorial Cup for the second time as captain.

Beatrice Casey and Jimmy Corbett celebrate at the final whistle Beatrice Casey and Jimmy Corbett after the 2013 final. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Understandably, Casey was emotional afterwards as she was inundated with congratulations and well wishes and approached for ‘a few quick words’.

But she happily obliged, offering more than just a few words in sheer delight with what her side had just achieved.

“Super,” was her immediate reaction.

“It’s a great feeling to be All-Ireland champions again and a great credit to the girls. When it came down to the wire there at the end, they just showed the true heart and spirit that they have. It’s fantastic to get a win again, it’s great.

“We’ve been unlucky. We’ve been in semis and that but haven’t reached the final since 2013. We’ve been there or thereabouts for the last number of years. It’s great.

“When you get back to a final, it’s hugely important that you win it. When you win it, it keeps the hunger and it keeps everything alive again for another season.”

Speaking of next year, Staunton’s bags are packed as she heads Down Under for the AFLW season. Yesterday was the ‘fairytale ending,’ Casey grinned.

“Not that she’s ending or anything like that but it’s great for her to go on a high and to have her All-Ireland medal in her back pocket,” she added.

Cora Staunton with Aisling O’Sullivan of Mourneabbey at the final whistle The stark difference between winning and losing: Staunton and Aisling O'Sullivan at the final whistle. Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

But she’ll be back in the green and red of Carnacon next year upon her return?

“Absolutely!”

There’s no questioning that.

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):

Mayo stars shine as Carnacon crowned All-Ireland senior champions for the sixth time

‘Cora is something else really’ – The duo behind Carnacon’s glittering success

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Emma Duffy

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