It is invariably difficult to analyse the strengths and weaknesses of club teams in comparison to one another, when they have never crossed swords before. What we do know though, is that having reached an All-Ireland final, Myshall and Scariff/Ogonnelloe are two top teams writes Daragh O'Conchuir ahead of this Sunday's AIB All Ireland Junior Club Final.
They are, after all, county and provincial champions. In Myshall’s case, they are All-Ireland champions too, motivated by the desire to rubber-stamp their club and parish in the annals by securing a coveted two-in-a-row.
Laois club, Harps are the only side to have managed the feat at this grade, actually registering a famous three-in-a-row from 2006-2008.
A goal from Ali Ruschitzko kept the Carlow women clear of Four Roads 12 months ago and the forward’s penchant for finding the net helped them once more as they overcame Naomh Brid and Mount Leinster Rangers to retain the county title.
Nuala Quirke and her daughters Niamh and Ciara remain prominent too, as does the indefatigable Marian Doyle. The half-back line of sisters Breege and Kate Nolan, and the unrelated Michelle Nolan is the springboard for much of their good work.
After a comfortable victory over Raharney, Myshall left it very late to make it a three-in-a-row in Leinster. Indeed they only led for the first time in injury time against Johnstownbridge and a goal from Ciara Quirke, to bring her tally to 1-8 snatched the silverware from the Kildare side’s grasp.Doyle mirrored her heroics in the Division 4 league final for Carlow by bagging two goals as Myshall edged past Four Roads in the All-Ireland semi-final.
The champions certainly possess invaluable experience and have shown that their hunger is in no way dimmed by their last two hard-fought wins.
For their part, Scariff/Ogonnelloe are pursuing a second title in three campaigns for Clare, after Inagh took the honours against Londoners Tara in 2011. There is no questioning their appetite and they are clearly relishing this new experience.
Scariff and Ogonnelloe only joined forces in 2012 and the impact has been significant. While Myshall are senior queenpins in Carlow, it was the intermediate championship that Scariff/Ogonnelloe bagged this year.
Their toughest challenge in that process arrived in the first tie of the round-robin series, when they had just three points to spare over Éire Óg. Mairéad Scanlon, Aileen Thornton and Sarah O’Donnell did the scoring damage in that game, while county star Susan Vaughan excelled at midfield and Marian O’Brien cleared plenty ball.
Wolfe Tones, Clarecastle and Whitegate were dispensed with before another meeting with Clarecastle in the county final. The Fr Liam Murray Cup was bound for East Clare by virtue of a 12-point victory.Clanmaurice and Butlerstown were dispensed with as the Munster title was annexed, with Tara and St John’s unable to prevent the Scariff/Ogonnelloe steam train bound for Kilcormac. Now, there is just one game left. Neither side is willing to yield, but one, ultimately, will prevail over the other.
Let the games begin.