They may be in a Connacht final, but provincial glory is still a long way away for the Kilbride senior ladies’ team, who face the daunting task of trying to bridge the 8-19 to 0-3 gap that existed between themselves and Kilkerrin-Clonberne a year ago.
The Galway and Connacht champions are back in the Connacht final after recording a 4-9 to 2-4 win over Carnacon of Mayo at Bekan in their Connacht semi-final, and it’s notable that in the eighth clash between these two rivals since they first met in 2013 (every year, plus a replay in 2017) this was easily the most comfortable that the Galway side have been.
Some of that is down to a combination of Carnacon’s older age profile and the fact that Cora Staunton was unfit to start, though she did come off the bench and register 0-3. It’s also a factor, however, that Kilkerrin-Clonberne are only now coming to their peak now, with players like Nicola and Louise Ward, Annette Clarke, Siobhán Fahy and of course Australian Rules triallist Olivia Divilly at the peak of their powers. Add in an extra scoring punch from 2018 Galway minor captain Lynsey Noone, one of the four goalscorers in that Carnacon game, and it’s clear that for Kilkerrin-Clonberne, the target should be an All-Ireland title, not just another Connacht crown.
With all the heavyweights (Foxrock-Cabinteely, Mourneabbey, Termon and Donaghmoyne) still in the hunt, they could easily cast their eye farther than Ballintubber on Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m..
Yet even with their eye off the ball, it’s hard to see Kilbride turning this into a competitive tie. They needed the extra game against Clann na nGael and the introduction of Aisling Hanly into their forward line has been a huge boost, while defensively they have a lot of proven performers who won’t just roll out the red carpet for their Galway opponents.
Up front, however, it’s another story. Expecting a 15-year-old like Hanly to compete against some of the best players in the country is a huge ask, and yet she scored more from play in one game than any of her forward colleagues managed across the 120 minutes of action against Clann na nGael.
The margin mightn’t be as big as last year, but expect another comprehensive win for Kilkerrin-Clonberne all the same.
Herald Verdict: Kilkerrin-Clonberne.