SATURDAY, OCTOBER 14
Cork SFC Final
St Val’s V Mourneabby
LOUISE Coholan has won everything that’s to be won as an intercounty player.
Three senior All-Ireland medals, a senior B, a minor, an U16 and U14 medal have all been won wearing a red jersey, however just one Cork Senior Championship medal with St Val’s sits in the sideboard.
At 28, the Coppeen National School teacher would love another such medal, and to lift the John Hurley Cup over her head tomorrow in CIT would add a bit more sparkle to an already illustrious career.
Having lined out for Cork at underage level during an era that boasted one of the county’s greatest generation of players, including the great Amanda Murphy, Coholan counts herself blessed to have played with some of the best.
Her love of football stemmed from her father, a former Kilmichael star, and aged 11 Coholan was up there the most talented on the boys’ U12 team. A year later she joined St Val’s and she hasn’t looked back.
She now follows in the footsteps of Jean Lucey, Briege Corkery and Caoimhe Creedon as one of the greats to captain the mid-Cork side, an honour which came as a huge surprise the night before the first round of the senior championship opener against tomorrow’s opponents, Mourneabbey.
“It’s a fantastic honour and because I’ve played with Val’s for a long time, it’s lovely to have been chosen. I genuinely didn’t expect it though. Caoimhe was captain last year and Jean before that, so I’d big shoes to fill but I’m delighted.”
Louise Coughlan of St Val’s in action against Niamh O’Dea of The Banner during their Senior Ladies Munster football final clash a few years back. Photograph by John Kelly.
That fixture doubled up as the 2016 league final and the game ended in a draw, suggesting that tomorrow’s clash is going to be another cracker.
As the Clyda side bid for their first three in-a-row, St Val’s are hoping that it doesn’t signal a third straight senior county final defeat for them. Having lost in 2014 and 2015, the heartache was tough to take, but Coholan believes those defeats have only made them stronger.
“It’s very, very hard. You’d want to be a zombie not to feel it but it’s part of sport as well. You have to put it behind you and drive on again for the following year and I think we’re lucky that we have a strong and ambitious management team who push us further.”
A team meeting last November to review the season, as is tradition, saw the side all agree to return, with Conor Condon once again at the helm leading the way.
Pazzer O’Leary, Dan Buckley, Margaret Buckley and Simon Foley are all still in the mix on the backroom team, while former Oulart-The Ballagh hurling coach Frankie Flannery joined midway through the season to add another layer to their armour.
Just four players have moved on over the last two seasons – Jean Lucey, Fiona Crowley, Becky Hannigan and Niamh Canty – and so Condon has a tight unit hungry to make amends for the last two final defeats.
With a draw against Mourneabbey in the first round, Val’s were then put to the test against Inch Rovers in the second, before meeting the Killeagh side again in the semi-final a fortnight ago in Mayfield. On that night, they were far too prolific for Inch, but Coholan knows their performance will have to go a lot deeper than that to win back the John Hurley Cup.
As skipper she’ll look to the likes of the impressive 18-year-old Nicola Dennehy alongside her in attack, while there’s hopes that former Cork star Caoimhe Creedon will come through a recurring hamstring injury to start. Behind her then there’s Briege Corkery, Vera Foley and Marie Ambrose, and together they’ll do everything in their power to deny a Mourneabbey side led by captain Brid O’Sullivan, Ciara O’Sullivan and Sile O’Callaghan.
With the Clyda side having lost two successive All-Ireland finals, and St Val’s two consecutive county finals, then emotion and desire will have a big say in tomorrow’s game.
Meanwhile, CIT will also host the Division 4C league final between St Peter’s and Bride Rovers B at 1pm and the Junior B Championship final between Aghada and Dohenys at 3pm.