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'The stuff you dream of' - Magnificent Mourneabbey left speechless again after last-gasp All-Ireland win

Laura Fitzgerald was the Cork side’s late hero as they secured back-to-back titles.

mourneabbey Mourneabbey celebrating with the silverware. Source: Sportsfile.

THE SWEETEST WAY to win, but the most horrible way to lose.

Cork ladies football powerhouse Mourneabbey made it back-to-back titles in the dying seconds of yesterday’s All-Ireland senior club final at Limerick’s Gaelic Grounds, as captain Bríd O’Sullivan got her hands on the Dolores Tyrrell Memorial Cup for the second consecutive year.

Player of the Match Laura Fitzgerald broke first-time finalists Kilkerrin-Clonberne hearts with a superb, last-gasp point at the very death to ensure the silverware winters on Leeside once again.

While they added yesterday’s 2-9 to 0-14 victory to a maiden All-Ireland final win over Foxrock-Cabinteely last December, Shane Ronayne’s side suffered their own fair share of heartache in the years prior to 2018.

The now six-in-a-row Cork and Munster champions were edged out in the 2014, 2015 and 2017 national deciders, while they also suffered a semi-final loss in 2016.

Now, they’re back-to-back All-Ireland senior champions, having contested their first county final in 2014 under Tipperary All-Ireland intermediate winning boss Ronayne.

What a journey.

Fitzgerald spoke for the entire parish in her post-match interview with TG4, when Gráinne McElwaine asked the star forward if she had ever scored a point as important.

“Never,” she smiled. “Honestly, I don’t think so. That’s the stuff you dream of. Scoring the winning point, you actually can’t put it into words. I cannot put it into words, it’s unbelievable.”

Deviling deeper into the thrilling encounter which Kilkerrin-Clonberne started strongest, Fitzgerald continued:

“All year long, we’ve been slow enough to start and get out of the traps. I don’t know if it’s something to be proud of but we credit ourselves as a second half team and I think we showed it there today.

“We never, ever give up. I think that comes with experience; Kilkerrin-Clonberne are going to get that over the years.”

The Galway side were 0-5 to 0-1 ahead in the first half, but 1-2 in a two-minute spell really turned the game on its head — four-time Dublin All-Ireland winner Noelle Healy made her impact felt there.

healy Noelle Healy celebrates with her family. Source: Mourneabbey Twitter.

The loss of All-Star Nicola Ward was another severe blow for Kevin Reidy’s side. Ward — who had just returned from a cruciate injury this year — seemed to injure her knee, and her tears as she left the field said it all. 

It was tit-for-tat down the home straight and Kilkerrin-Clonberne will rue the late chances they missed, but the team move Fitzgerald finished off was deserving of any late victory.

“Over the years we know that we need to stay going until the very, very end,” the match-winner stressed. “That showed out there.

“Just having the nerve to even hold the ball out around the middle of the field, the way they worked it up there in the last 30 seconds. Unbelievable stuff from everyone.”

laura-fitzgerald-kicks-to-score-the-winning-point Fitzgerald kicking the winning score. Source: Lorraine O’Sullivan/INPHO

Unbelievable indeed.

Last year, Mourneabbey made realms of history as they completed an historic All-Ireland treble. Having lifting the All-Ireland junior title in 2005 and adding the intermediate crown to their cabinet in 2007, they became the first ladies football club in the country to make it three titles across three grades.

There’s a small group that have been there since ’05, and of the nine titles available to ladies club footballers — county, provincial and All-Ireland at all three grades — they have all nine.

A lot of the spotlight was on Dubliner Healy yesterday, who now holds a unique All-Ireland double. Just 2017 Footballer of the Year Healy, and members of the double-winning Ballyboden team of 2004 and 2005, are All-Ireland ladies senior club championship medal holders from the capital.

And for her, that’s another unique complete set of All-Ireland titles — U14, U16, minor, senior and club.

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Emma Duffy

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