Friday 6 December 2019

'When you win one, you want to win two and three' – Ronayne keen for Mourneabbey to build legacy

27 October 2019; Noelle Healy of Mourneabbey during the Munster Ladies Football Senior Club Championship Final match between Ballymacarbry and Mourneabbey at Galtee Rovers GAA Club, in Bansha, Tipperary. Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile
27 October 2019; Noelle Healy of Mourneabbey during the Munster Ladies Football Senior Club Championship Final match between Ballymacarbry and Mourneabbey at Galtee Rovers GAA Club, in Bansha, Tipperary. Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile
Michael Verney

Michael Verney

TWELVE months ago there were magical scenes, with bonfires blazing in Mourneabbey as they finally shed the tag of bridesmaids to lift All-Ireland ladies club SFC honours for the first time after a series of near misses.

Given all the heartbreak encountered along the way, the Cork side have no intention of relinquishing their crown to Galway's Kilkerrin-Clonberne in Saturday's final, with manager Shane Ronayne keen for Mourneabbey to write their place in the pantheon of greats.

"You can't buy that winning feeling and we'd love to replicate it again. It was very special and when you win it once, there's a hunger there to go and do it again and prove that we weren't happy with one," Ronayne says.

"When you're looking at all the big clubs over the last number of years, the Carnacons and Donaghmoyne, we were being classed in the same bracket as them, but we hadn't got over the line. We just wanted to get one on the board.

"Once you've one on the board, you want to get two and three and the girls would like to build a legacy in Mourneabbey. We have a legacy there at the moment but they'd like to build one on the All-Ireland stage.

"You have to strike while the iron is hot, you don't know how long the girls will keep going for. We're definitely embracing it all and hopefully we can get number two on the board."

Mourneabbey boast some of the game's finest in the likes of Cork stars Ciara and Doireann O'Sullivan as well as Eimear Meaney, but Ronayne knows what awaits them, with Kilkerrin-Clonberne a daunting task.

The first-time finalists couldn't handle Mourneabbey in last year's semi-final but twins Nicola and Louise Ward – who earned All-Star awards just last week – lead a formidable challenge and the boot being on the other foot this time around isn't lost on Ronayne.

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"They have that raw hunger that we had last year and I wasn't one bit surprised that they made the All-Ireland final. They said last year when we beat them that we were a step above them but they have certainly bridged that gap," he says.

"No matter how much training or plamásing talking to players that you do, that raw hunger in the pit of your stomach has to be there. I wondered this year whether we would have that but I've seen it with our girls. 

Hunger

"They want to go back-to-back, but definitely that raw hunger of having never won it before will definitely be in their corner and that's something we have to match. If we match that, it'll take a very good performance to beat us."

The addition of 2017 Player of the Year Noelle Healy (pictured) was a huge addition for Ronayne's squad, with county rivalries put aside as the Dublin star switched club allegiances and she has "slotted in seamlessly", according to Meaney.

"I'm usually cursing her pace running after her but now I'm delighted, I'm like, 'give her the ball and go'. It's nice to have her on your side for once. She's an unbelievable player and she's had some massive performances for us this year. She's a really lovely girl and she's just slotted in perfectly," Meaney says.

It's a hectic time for Ronayne as he mixes his duties as Tipperary ladies football boss with Mourneabbey's run to the final and his role with UCC's O'Connor Cup team. He also takes a host of teams in Coláiste Dún Iascaigh in Cahir, where he works as a PE and maths teacher.

Ronayne revels in the pressure, however. After celebrating his 40th birthday in the week following Tipperary's All-Ireland intermediate success, he hopes to complete a famous double to cap an unforgettable year.

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