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'We didn't set out to do that to any team' - A 40-point victory to tee up Cork seven-in-a-row tilt

Reigning All-Ireland champions Mourneabbey are back in the county final.

MOURNEABBEY LADIES MANAGER Shane Ronayne says it wasn’t his side’s intention to score such an emphatic victory on the way back to another county final, but a reflection of their hunger for more success.

shane-ronayne-celebrates-with-his-management-team Mourneabbey manager Shane Ronayne [file photo]. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

The reigning All-Ireland senior champions posted a 11-12 to 0-5 win over Éire Óg at the weekend to advance to the county decider where they will aim to win a seventh consecutive crown.

It was the first time this season that Ronayne had his full complement to select from, with Cork stalwarts Ciara and Doireann O’Sullivan, the latter previously injured, scoring a combined 4-3.

They now face West Cork in the final, who also came through with a comfortable win in the other semi-final clash with Aghada.

Speaking to The42, Ronayne says that there was just five points between the sides when Mourneabbey and Éire Óg met in a round-robin game earlier this year, and that a strong start propelled them towards a big win on this occasion.

“We got a couple of goals, there, at the start of the game against the wind, and I think that knocked the stuffing out of Éire Óg.

“There was a very strong wind in Whitechurch on Saturday. I felt it was over about 10 or 15 minutes into the game because we had got into maybe a 10-point lead against the wind and I just felt confident we’d kick on from there, and I suppose it’s very hard for a team like Éire Óg or any other team after shipping five or six goals against the wind in the first half.

“I think their heads probably went down but in fairness to them they kept going to the end. We didn’t set out to do that to any team but I think the girls had a lot of frustration with themselves. They hadn’t played well in the first couple of games.”

Mourneabbey, who scored a last-minute winner to defend their All-Ireland crown last year, returned to training in June when restrictions were sufficiently eased for teams to get back on the pitch.

Ronayne believes the extended Covid-19 break has been beneficial for his charges and that they have rediscovered their form in advance of the final against West Cork.

“The break has done them good, they’re refreshed and revitalised,” he said. “We’re very happy with where we are, they did a very good three-week period in between the group games and the semi-final. We intended to work very hard during that time and did a couple of very tough sessions.

The girls responded to it and let their football do the talking, it was probably one of the most complete performances we’ve ever had in my seven years involved. We’re very happy and glad to be back in the county final again.”

Away from the pitch, Ronayne returns to work this week as a PE teacher in Coláiste Dún Iascaigh in Cahir. Going back to school can be daunting for staff and students while the coronavirus remains a threat in Ireland, even with all the social distancing precautions that are in place.

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The school has about 750 students along with its teaching faculty and other members of staff. To prepare for the large numbers returning, Ronayne explains that excess furniture has been removed from classrooms while tables have been rearranged to properly facilitate social distancing between the students.

“I don’t really mind going back. We were lucky to get a good break. We kind of got used to a bit of normality in our everyday lives, as far as we can call it ‘normal’ at the moment.  

I know things are necessary, what they’re doing in schools, but it just feels like you’re going back a phase maybe.

“There’s so many regulations and guidelines in the school. It’s fairly strange that way. You see classrooms, the way they’re laid out.

“It was strange to see the first years with their masks on and I think it’s very hard for them coming into a new school, some of them might have been coming from national schools that are very small and coming into a huge building.”

caitlin-kennedy-celebrate-after-the-game-with-manager-shane-ronayne Ronayne pictured with Tipperary's Caitlín Kennedy after winning the 2019 All-Ireland intermediate final. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

Ronayne has had a hectic schedule as a manager in recent years, working with Mourneabbey, the Tipperary Ladies, the UCC O’Connor Cup team, as well as coaching in his school.

He says that there are arrangements in place to play a Munster Ladies club championship this year, which Mourneabbey have already qualified for as West Cork cannot progress to the provincial stages.

The busy life will continue for him when Tipperary’s campaign gets underway in October and November as part of a revamped All-Ireland championship. Tipp are in Group 2 along with Galway and Monaghan, and the group winners will progress to the semi-finals.

The lockdown period gave Ronayne a chance to assess his workload and consider how much he can take on moving forward.

“Even before,” he begins, “the weeks prior to lockdown, I had to have a look at what I was doing, was it sustainable long-term. I certainly felt very tired from going straight from one team to another and dealing with different players. I did find it a bit hard and would have to have a look at that.

It’s hard going and it’s something we’ll have to have a look at once we see how things are going to go and what teams are going to be playing this year. I will probably cut back a bit next year. 

“I had great times with all the teams but I’ll have to have a look and see what my schedule can take, and give a bit more time to myself and to family life as well.”

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