Sport

"We know damn well that we can do this" - Ballymac face Kilkerrin/Clonberne in All-Ireland semi

In 2000 Ballymacarbry won the Munster club ladies' football title. They beat Donoughmore by 9 points in Glanworth to lift their 14th title in 16 years.

It was an outstanding period of dominance for the Waterford club but as the new millennium began the Cork counties started to take hold of the competition. Donoughmore would go back-to-back six times, Inch Rovers got involved in the trophy-collecting trade over those next 13 years and then Mourneabbey became the de facto kingpins until this year.

While the Banner of Clare picked up a single title in 2013 the Munster competition was won exclusively by Cork sides. All that changed three weeks ago in Mallow when Ballymac beat the Banner to the 2022 title in an arm wrestle of a game. It added number 15 to the cabinet in the Nire valley and extends their lead at the top of the roll of honour within the province.

In all the years that Ballymac missed out on winning Munster, they were also missing out on representing their province in the All-Ireland series.

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The last time they lined out in the final was in 1998 - the same year that ladies' football was first televised (Waterford took on Monaghan in the All-Ireland and a replay was needed to settle the matter - Waterford won the replay).

That year Michael Ryan's Ballymac took on Portobello of Dublin in Birr, winning 2.15 to 0.8. That win sent them to the top of another record table - they now had ten All-Irelands in twelve years, an achievement that will likely never be matched.

While success outside of the county has eluded them, the club have continued notching Waterford titles, picking up number 41 this year. They remain the most successful club side in the country despite not playing outside of Munster in all this time.

This Saturday the sense of hope is palpable. Kilkerrin Clonberne come to Dungarvan for the 2022 semi-final. The Galway side carry a big stick as they travel south. Galway Champions, Connacht Champions, defending All-Ireland Champions - the challenge does not get much tougher. They beat Mourneabbey in last years decider and were runners-up to the same outfit twelve months prior.

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If Ballymac are to get back to the top of the heap, they will need to go the hard road but as was voiced by some of the players this week - they wouldn't have it any other way.

They have been impressive in their games this year where they offered a new goal-scoring threat. They've also been tough to break down and offered little by way of scoring opportunities to their opponents.

Speaking to WLR Sport this week, Ballymac attacker Michelle Ryan put it best - "We know damn well that we can do this."

Throw-in at Fraher Field is at 1.30 pm on Saturday, November 26th.

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