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5 sets of sisters involved as Cork club chase first All-Ireland title against Donegal opponents

Mourneabbey square off against Termon in Sunday’s senior decider.

Mourneabbey's Bríd O'Sullivan and Termon's Geraldine McLaughlin.
Mourneabbey's Bríd O'Sullivan and Termon's Geraldine McLaughlin.

Updated at 09.18

IT’LL BE A day for breaking new ground in Tuam Stadium on Sunday.

Mourneabbey will come from North Cork and Termon will come from North Donegal as both chase the dream of a Tesco Homegrown All-Ireland ladies senior football title for the first time.

The Cork club have been involved in an All-Ireland series before, landing the junior crown in 2005 and the intermediate title in 2007. There’s been a family ethos at the root of their rise to prominence with five sets of  sisters involved in their squad.

“We’re a very close-knit bunch,” admits Mourneabbey player Bríd O’Sullivan. “There’s seven O’Sullivan’s involved, four sisters from one family, two from another and then I’m the odd one out! Then you’ve O’Callaghan, Harrington and Coakley sisters as well.

“We’re playing with our best friends. We found it tough going when we came up to senior in Cork first because of the standard. We’d injury problems and players gone travelling as well. Thankfully it came together this year.”

For Termon getting out of Donegal hasn’t been a problem but managing to overcome Monaghan opponents in Ulster has been tricky.

“Donaghmoyne have been our big rivals,” reveals Termon attacker Geraldine McLaughlin. “We beat them in 2010 and then lost to them three years in a row in Ulster. When we beat Castlewellan in the Ulster semi-final, it gave us a big chance against Donaghmoyne.”

Termon got past their Monaghan opponents by two points and then took care of Galway’s Kilkerrin-Clonberne in their All-Ireland semi-final clash. McLaughlin is in a rich vein of scoring form at the moment having struck 6-7 in the last two games but modestly deflects the praise.

TESCO Homegrown All Ireland Club Finals Press Conference Termon's Geraldine McLaughlin Source: Barry Cregg/SPORTSFILE

“I’m just lucky enough to be on the end of the moves,” laughs McLaughlin. “The hard work is done by the other girls and I just have the job of finishing it off.”

For their part Mourneabbey saw off Laois outfit Mountmellick at the same stage having previously travelled to London to win their quarter-final tie. Ciara O’Sullivan was crowned an Allstar winner recently while her sister Doireann was also part of the triumphant Cork All-Ireland setup. It’s been a brilliant adventure for a team that draws players from different North Cork areas.

TESCO Homegrown All Ireland Club Finals Press Conference Mourneabbey's Brid O'Sullivan Source: Barry Cregg/SPORTSFILE

“I’m from Killavullen myself but only played underage for them and then had to go to nearby Mourneabbey to play adult ladies football,” explains O’Sullivan. “We’ve girls from Mallow and Ballyclough as well, all the neighbouring parishes that wouldn’t have adult ladies teams.

“We’ve had amazing support, a load of our fans came to London as well for our quarter-final. It’s a big occasion and we’re really looking forward to it.”

In Termon, there is a similar level of infectious excitement. McLaughlin lines out with her sisters Nicole and Sharon while there are also sets of McCafferty and Friel sisters. The McCafferty’s are first cousins of Donegal footballer Christy Toye while goalkeeper Laura Gallagher is a sister of Donegal senior Neil.

“It’s a massive game for us,” says McLaughlin. “The parish is hopping, there’ll be busloads heading down from Termon. It’s definitely going to be a big challenge. Whether it’s club or county, Cork are so strong and they’ve a few really good player that we’ll have to watch.”

SUNDAY

Tesco Homegrown All-Ireland senior final
Mourneabbey (Cork) v Termon (Donegal), Tuam Stadium, 2pm

First published at 16.37 on 27 November

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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