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Dublin: 18 °C Tuesday 16 July, 2019
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'Winning this really does mean everything to everyone on this team and in this club'

After endless hurt, heartbreak and near misses, Mournebbey were finally crowned All-Ireland club champions yesterday.

“UNBELIEVABLE,” AN ELATED Doireann O’Sullivan grinned when asked how much it meant to her, and that feeling as the final whistle sounded.

Brid O'Sullivan celebrates with the trophy Bríd O'Sullivan with the cup. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

“I don’t think you can put it into words. First feeling definitely was relief. Five years at it now, we finally got over the line and I suppose it was just relief. We’ll enjoy it now over the next couple of months!”

She kicked a massive 0-6 as her Mourneabbey side finally reached the Holy Grail and were crowned All-Ireland senior club champions after four years of hurt and heartbreak.

The five in-a-row Cork and Munster kingpins had fallen just short in the 2014, 2015 and 2017 finals, and the 2017 semi-final. The emotional scenes as the rain bucketed down on Parnell Park said it all. This special group had finally did it.

“It’s so emotional and so brilliant for them,” manager Shane Ronayne said as his players celebrated at full hilt in the dressing room.

“They put so much into it. They keep coming back down to that field, I don’t know how they do it after all the hurt there the past few years. Everyone was telling us we had great years — we didn’t think we had great years.

“Years to come, we’d look back at five Munsters and five counties but they wanted this so badly. They’re the first club in the whole country to hold all nine trophies, that’s an incredible achievement.

Shane Ronayne celebrates winning with Laura Fitzgerald Shane Ronayne celebrates with Laura Fitzgerald. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

“Five or six of the girls have done that, what a bunch. It’s going to be some party down in Mourneabbey!”

Captain Brid O’Sullivan’s face when she lifted the Dolores Tyrrell Memorial Cup was something else. Her words afterwards echoed her manager’s, and her teammate’s.

“For us, as a team, it’s a special moment,” she told the media.

“But this has been such a massive effort not only by this team, but the whole community of Mourneabbey and beyond. It really is just a special moment for the whole community and we can’t wait to share it with them.

“It’s really difficult to put into words to be honest. Eimear Meaney saud during the week that this means everything. It might sound stupid to put so much into something that isn’t a certainty. You’re never going to be sure that you’re going to win. Winning this really does mean everything to everyone on this team and in this club.”

“If there’s one thing that we’re able to do it’s celebrate,” she grinned. “I don’t think there’s going to be anything like it over the next few weeks. It really was a complete team performance and we’re delighted.”

Special feelings and emotions aside, Ronayne had nothing but praise to heap on his team after their 1-13 to 1-7 win over Foxrock-Cabinteely.

Mourneabbey players celebrate at the final whistle Celebrations in full flow. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

“They performed to their potential today and that’s the big thing: we said if we’d get a performance out of them, we’d win. That’s what we focused on, we didn’t think of winning or the result, we said if we perform we’ll get the outcome we want.

“They played brilliant football in second half, we kept it simple and there was no panic. That was key. We got the dream performance out of them, they performed to their ability.”

That approach most definitely worked. O’Sullivan referred back to that time and time again: “We knew today that all we needed to do was perform and we’d get the result that comes with that.”

The calmness and relaxed focus of the group was huge, compared to previous years when they may have panicked.

For example, training was called off because of adverse weather conditions the other night and a delay in Naas had them 45 minutes late for their pre-match meal.

“There wasn’t a bother,” he grins. “We had the work done this year.

“Before, they’d have been panicking and worrying about things like that but no, this year was just different. The last few weeks there’s just been a calmness.

“They got what they deserve there today, you don’t always get what you deserve in life. That’s no disrespect to Foxrock, they said it after the final whistle that we were the better team — and we were the better team today.

“I’m so happy for all the girls inside there and so happy for the people of Mourneabbey.”

A last word to Doireann O’Sullivan and that masterclass, that heroic performance. It’s even more impressive given she’s carrying an injury and trained just once in the last three weeks.

“She’s hobbling around out there on one knee, she shouldn’t even be playing,”Ronayne smiles afterwards. “You wouldn’t think that looking at her. That’s just testament to the way she is.”

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Emma Duffy

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