Carnacon in an All Ireland semi-final is as familiar a sight as the feeling of heartbreak that comes each summer when Mayo crash out on their chase for Sam Maguire. And this Sunday the central Mayo girls are back on old familiar ground, if the venue is one they would have liked to avoid.
Cork have been the thorn in the side of Mayo on the ladies inter-county scene over the past few years, as Mayo have had to watch the girls from the rebel county claim five All Ireland titles in a row in the inter-county game. But on the club scene Mayo and Carnacon in particular, have held the upper hand The Mayo champions are looking to put three All Ireland titles back to back this season, and in the last two All Ireland finals they have seen off the challenge of Inch Rovers from Cork. This year Carnacon have to travel into the lion’s den and face off against Donaghmore on their own patch. The Donaghmore girls will be looking to do what Inch have failed to in the last two seasons and stop Carnacon.
Each side has in its pack one of the finest forwards in the ladies game. Cora Staunton captain of Carnacon this year comes into the game after landing 1-11 of her side’s 1-12 score in their four point win over Corofin in the Connacht final. While Carnacon has Staunton, Donaghmore has Juliet Murphy in the ranks. Whichever girl proves to be the ace in the pack on Sunday could see the tie swing in her side’s favour.
But it is not just about two players on Sunday, the midfield battle between Claire Egan and Martha Carther for the Mayo girls against Regina Curtin and the aforementioned Murphy will be key. While the Cork girls also have star players like Rena Buckley in defence and Aisling O’Connor up front, Carnacon are still a whose who of the ladies game in the county.
Players like Sharon McGing, Fiona McHale, Noelle Tierney, and Natasha Beegan know how to win and want to win and will not be found wanting on Sunday. Both sides last met in this competition in 2006 with Carnacon coming out on top by nine points before losing the All Ireland final, a defeat they have more than rectified in the past two years. While going to Cork will be a tough task, the girls in green and red have what it takes to make it back to the final and have a crack at three in a row.
Donaghmore v Carnacon
Donoughmore, Cork, Sunday November 8
Throw in: 2pm