Glenelly reflect on a year that will live long in the memory
All-Ireland Club Intermediate Ladies' Football Championship
GLENELLY might have bowed out of this year's All-Ireland Intermediate Club Championship following defeat to Tipperary side Cahir last Sunday, but this was a year to remember for the small rural Tyrone club.
After failing to win a single senior game in 2014, Glenelly regraded to intermediate level for 2015 and will make an immediate return to the senior ranks for next season after clinching not just county championship success, but a first ever provincial title.
They saw off near neighbours Clann na nGael in the Tyrone final and blazed a trail in Ulster, not only defeating a very good Lissummon (Armagh) side, but also the 2011 All-Ireland Intermediate Club champions Lisnaskea, before defeating Donaghmoyne B in the decider just a few weeks ago.
Unfortunately, their fantastic run came to an end in Tipperary against a very impressive and shrewd Cahir team last Sunday afternoon, but as manager Noel O'Kane reflected, what the team has achieved this season will have a long-lasting effect.
"At the start of the year, we only set our eyes on winning the county championship and we achieved this" he said.
"We went into Ulster with no expectations and began winning games. That gave the girls huge confidence and their hunger grew and grew and we won Ulster. This year was the first time any of the girls had ever played in an Ulster club game before."
The rub of the green did not fall in Glenelly's favour last Sunday, but O'Kane made no excuses for coming up short against very good opposition, the majority of whose players also featured for the club in the 2012 All-Ireland Intermediate Club Championship final defeat to Parnell's, London.
"Things did not go to plan, but I have to say Cahir are a fantastic team and they showed superiority throughout every aspect. We did miss a lot of chances and they took theirs and they got the breaks at the right time, so I think the score line did flatter them somewhat," he added.
"But we can't be too disappointed. We got to the last four intermediate teams in the Ireland. They were just very experienced and very, very good and had strong dual players."
It is too early for O'Kane to make a call on his future with the Plumbridge outfit and, for the time being, he and the players will take the time to reflect on what they have achieved this season, bringing this already close-knit community even closer together.
"Immediately after the game on Sunday, the girls were disappointed. They didn't want to lose. They had been training for the last 13 months and, of course, they didn't want it to end there," he said.
"Now it is over, but they can hold their heads up with pride. They have brought the club even closer together. They ate together with the supporters after the game and there was a large cross-community support for them too.
"They have done so much for the community and there is now a solid foundation to build upon for next year."