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Knockmore ready to retain title

Sport

GETTING TO GRIPS Burrishoole captain Sarah Baynes and Knockmore captain Kate Munnelly are pictured with the Mayo LGFA Senior Championship Perpetual Cup last Sunday. Pic: Michael Donnelly


Preview
Michael Gallagher

A NEW ERA took shape last season when Knockmore blasted their way past Carnacon to win the county senior title and end the long reign of the former champions.
The Carnacon women had been at the pinnacle of football in Mayo for a generation and Knockmore’s win was ground-breaking.
Now, the tables have turned. Knockmore are the champions looking to defend their crown and Burrishoole are the bright young guns looking to relieve them of the hard-earned trophy.
Things can change in the blink of an eye.
Knockmore hold all the aces. They’ve the experience of winning the title and backed that up in this year’s semi-final by traveling to Clogher and beating Carnacon once again. There were huge questions asked of Cormac Reape’s women that day and they answered impressively. Carnacon pushed them all the way, and with a little good fortune might have brought the game to extra time; but Knockmore showed enough grit and determination to grind out an impressive win.
At the same time, Burrishoole were beating Westport in the other semi-final to set up an exciting and unique final between two adventurous, well-drilled outfits.
Burrishoole won the intermediate title back in 2016 and their steady improvement since has now borne fruit.
The Clew Bay women have the experience of Caroline McManamon (nee McGing) between the posts. The former Carnacon defender has a collection of county, provincial and All-Ireland medals to her name and is a great asset to her adopted club.
In front of her will be Ciara McManamon at full-back, her twin sister Clodagh at number six, and Leona Ryder in the corner. The experienced trio have all worn the Mayo jersey on the biggest of days and will relish the opportunity of representing their club in their first senior final.
Knockmore have a forward line well capable of testing the Burrish’ backs. Shauna Howley will be the leader of the band while Sarah Mulvihill and Lara Sweeney are well aware of the route to goal.
Burrishoole will need to keep a tight rein on the Knockmore attack as they did for long periods of the semi-final in Westport. Their ability to defend in numbers and break out at pace paid rich dividends and they’ll be hoping to repeat that in Bekan.
Midfield will be well contested with twin sisters Hannah and Emily Reape in there for Knockmore facing off against Sarah Baynes and Jennifer Cawley.
The Reapes played pivotal roles in Clogher when the saffron and blue edged out Carnacon, but they’ll be made fight for everything by the Burrish’ duo in Bekan.
Baynes is the team captain and never stops running while Cawley is tireless in her work.
At the back, Siofragh Kelly and Katie Munnelly have been excellent all season for the champions and will be determined to keep the ball away from the dangerous full-forward trio of Feena McManamon Ava Palaz and Maria Cannon.
McManamon takes up excellent positions for out-balls when the counter-attack is on. Palaz is impressing in her first season at senior while Cannon is a burgeoning talent capable of scoring highly if given the opportunity.
Colm McManamon will have his charges ready for war and the word coming out of McGovern Park indicates that the mood is good in the challengers’ camp.
Likewise, Knockmore are bouncing. Training sessions at home and on the road are proving to be very productive and Sunday’s final will certainly be a meeting of two squads very comfortable in their own ability.
Who will win? Burrishoole can win.
They have the game-plan capable of beating anyone and if they play to their potential for the full 60 minutes they could be dancing by the ocean on Sunday night.
However, the champions are deserved favourites. They have talented players all over the pitch and the experience of winning last year’s title will stand to them when the pressure moments arrive on Sunday.

Verdict: Knockmore


FIXTURE

Mayo LGFA SFC Final
Burrishoole v Knockmore
Sunday, October 16
Bekan at 4pm

 

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