GAA Football

Donaghmoyne look to defend All-Ireland SFC against Foxrock-Cabinteely

Donaghmoyne skipper Amanda Casey, pictured celebrating their Ulster success, insists no stone will be left unturned in their bid to create history by securing back-to-back All-Irelands when they face Foxrock-Cabinteely at Parnell Park tomorrow
Louise Gunn

All-Ireland Club Ladies’ Senior Football Championship final: Donaghmoyne (Monaghan) (holders) v Foxrock-Cabinteely (Dublin) (tomorrow, Parnell Park, 2.45pm, deferred coverage on TG4)

DONAGHMOYNE will attempt to become the first Ulster club to win back-to-back All-Ireland Senior Club Championship titles as history beckons for the provincial queenpins in their decider against Foxrock-Cabinteely tomorrow afternoon.

The Monaghan and Ulster champions would be just the fifth club in the competition’s 39-year history to retain the Dolores Tyrell Cup but they will certainly meet their match against the Dublin and Leinster champions.

For Donaghmoyne, this is their seventh final, winning four of those – 2015, 2012, 2009 and 2006 and beaten finalists in 2005 and 2013. It has always been a dream to win back-to-back titles, but that is very close to being a reality now.

And captain Amanda Casey admits retaining the title was the real aim from the start of the year.

“We knew we were well capable of it but it was all about getting the focus back,” she said. 

“It’s a tough task doing back to back. Any other year after we won the All-Ireland we found it difficult to come back as strong the next year. So this year we knew it would take something extra.”

The towering midfielder also admits there will be little said between them in their final huddle before throw-in.

“There will be very little talking done. Our girls are playing long enough. We all know our jobs. It will be just some words of encouragement.”

These sides met in the semi-finals last November in a game that went right down to the wire as they held on for a 1-8 to 0-7 win with thanks to some great saves from Allstar goalkeeper Linda Martin and Cathriona McConnell’s fourth minute first half goal.

“It was a complete dog fight from start to finish and there were very little separating the sides,” he added.

“I think it will be the exact same. It’s an All-Ireland final so everything is at stake.

“We love this time of year. We will just go out and do our best and that’s all we can do. We know it’s going to be so close but we like that. We like a fight.”

With the same teams dominating the senior club scene, there is little to be learned about each other’s opposition, but no doubt both sides will have been learning from their semi-final victories. 

Donaghmoyne, in their 1-8 to 1-6 victory over Mourneabbey – a game that was not decided until injury-time with points from Cathriona McConnell and Cora Courtney, were guilty of a high number of wides and their shooting will have given them food for thought ahead of tomorrow’s final. 

They also had to play 40 minutes of the game with 14 players after two separate sin-bins, both towards the end of each half. 

And although they were superb in keeping Mourneabbey to just a point both times, and those from frees as a result of the sin-bin, playing without a full quota does heighten the pressure on the team.

“We knew how tough Mourneabbey was going to be after last year’s final. There was huge relief when the final whistle went and to be back in the final,” he added.

“We worked hard and defended well but need to be more clinical up front. There’s always plenty to work on. I think Foxrock are a young team and have no fear, but Donaghmoyne ladies do have a lot of experience and we would hope this is an advantage.”

For Foxrock-Cabinteely, this is their first senior final, but they have been in an All-Ireland final before, winning the 2007 junior title. They fell at the semis stage last year to Donaghmoyne,, but they showed their worth as serious title contenders against five time champions Carnacon in the semi-finals just a couple of weeks ago. 

Having been reduced to 14 players, Foxrock-Cabinteely showed incredible resolve to score two goals in as many minutes and turn the game on its head. Amy Ring and Amy Connolly, who can both can call upon recent experience at the top level with Dublin, combined for the first of those goals, Ring the scorer, before she turned provider for Louth’s Anne-Marie Murphy.

Leading the Foxrock-Cabinteely charge from the half-back line once again will be Dublin duo Sinead Goldrick, recently crowned an Allstar, and Niamh Collins.

Westmeath’s Fiona Claffey is another player Donaghmoyne will need to keep a close eye on while Laois native Laura Nerney also found the net against Carnacon. But this is a Donaghmoyne team were change occurs very little, and 12 of last year’s starting 15 have been named to start again by Francie Coleman. 

It will take something special to defeat them – they just do not seem to know when they are beaten – but this will be the toughest of tests for Donaghmoyne as the prize is the biggest.

THE All-Ireland Junior Club Championship Final takes place today in Cullen Park, Carlow between St Maur’s (Dublin) – who defeated Latton after extra-time in a replay at the weekend – and Kinsale (Cork) at 1pm.

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