Both Ballina and Carnacon lifted cups today, the former the Connacht senior club title – deposing the holders St Brigid’s of Roscommon – while the latter claimed the ladies All-Ireland senior club title, hammering Cork’s Inch Rovers.
Ladies first, as they say – Carnacon had it all their own way in their All-Ireland final against Inch Rovers at Banagher, winning by 2-14 to 1-6. RTE’s match report is here. The peerless Cora Staunton – the Ronaldinho of ladies Gaelic football – racked up 1-11 of that winning total, as Carnacon made up for last year’s All-Ireland final defeat. The club is also the backbone of the Mayo ladies team so today’s All-Ireland win would, no doubt, have dulled the pain from September’s All-Ireland final loss to Cork.
Ballina’s Connacht final clash with St Brigid’s was live on TG4 and I caught most of it, though not the two early first half goal by Stepenites, which helped them into a four-point lead at the break. The second half looked fairly robust at times, with plenty of mistimed tackles, shoulders landing square in the chest and the odd few belts being thrown. From my vantage point on the couch, it appeared to be Brigid’s doing most of the scelping. However, it was Ballina who went a man down early in the second half, at a stage when Brigid’s were only a point behind but this seemed to provoke Ballina back to life and they raced five points clear before being reeled back in to just two at the finish. Brigid’s hit the woodwork in injury time – when a goal would surely have landed them the title – but Ballina managed to hold on for, literally, a hard-fought win. A full report on the game, also from RTE, is available here.
Like the Champions League, the club championships now go into a hibernation phase, with the action resuming in February. I’m not sure who Ballina will meet in the semis but Crossmaglen are already through from Ulster, Nemo Rangers look like they’ll be joining the party from Munster and my local club here in the metropolis, St Vincent’s (who hammered Portlaoise 3-13 to 1-8 today in the Leinster semi-final: go on ya good things!), are starting to look the part in Leinster. That’s four heavyweight clubs so the All-Ireland series early next year could be worth watching out for.