Young Bredagh squad up for Glenfin challenge in Ulster Ladies Football semi-final
Ulster Senior Club Championship semi-final: Glenfin (Donegal) v Bredagh (Down) (Today, Pairc Taobhoige, Glenfin, 2.30pm)
THE first of the places in the Ulster senior club final is down for decision this afternoon as Glenfin and Bredagh vie for championship honours.
Bredagh gave up home advantage for this semi-final clash so they could play the game a week earlier due to the involvement of their men's senior team in the Down intermediate final on Sunday 21st - when this game was due to be played - and their minor girls, who are also part of the senior team, playing in the Down minor final the day before.
The Down champions have been patiently waiting on this game, the first of their Ulster campaign, having had a bye in the quarter-final, after defeating Carryduff in the county final just over a month ago to clinch their fifth Down title and a second in three years.
Bredagh will certainly have their work cut out for them, with Glenfin going in as favourites, but they will be relishing the challenge before them. They have five players on the Down senior squad, including captain Hannah Murray, who has led the team for the past five years, sisters Laoise and Orla Duffy, Cassie Moane and Aoibheann McCarvill, all of whom are play in and around that crucial middle third for Bredagh.
The Duffys along with Ciara and Muirin McCreanor and Ella Durkin won the Ulster minor club title with Bredagh in 2016 and have now become established players on the senior side managed by Caolan Hendron and Paedar Doyle.
They have never reached a senior club final before, their best run in Ulster ending at this same stage back in 2010 to Termon while their most recent run, in 2016, saw them lose to St Macartans in the last eight.
“It has been five weeks since the county final and with no quarter-final it hasn't been ideal as especially with no quarter-final but we are looking forward to the game,” said Hendron.
“Bredagh are a very young team whose average age is between 17 and 19; these girls hold no fear but in Ulster, experience counts for a lot. “We know Glenfin have a lot of experience, especially with their county players, and we know they are favourites, but we are going there with nothing to lose.
“The ladies team is well supported within the club and although it's a fair distance hopefully a good number will travel. We want to make sure we are competitive with them.
“We had a good Down championship, which is not easy to win, and this team is full of potential so we will see what happens.”
Glenfin have been in a final before, albeit some seven years ago, when they lost to Donaghmoyne in the 2011 decider while last year they exited in the quarter-finals to champions St Macartans, who face Donaghmoyne in the other semi-final next weekend.
Glenfin easily accounted for Cavan champions Lurgan in the quarter-final two weeks ago 5-12 to 0-10. They did so that day without Karen Guthrie but welcomed back Yvonne Bonner, who missed the county final the previous week as she was an AFL Women's rookie trial in Australia, but showed no signs of jetlag having stepped off a plane just a day or two earlier to score 2-4 while fellow Donegal county star Katy Herron hit 2-3. Continuing to roll back the years is former Donegal stalwart Diane McGlynn, married to footballer Frank, who is also part of Francie Martin's management team, while his sister Anna Marie, is also one of four county players that Glenfin can boast team as is another former Donegal player, and captain of the side, Grainne Houston.
Indeed, this is just the second time all year Martin will have a full quota of players to choose from – the first being their county semi-final win over Termon - and there is certainly no better time. Karen Guthrie has postponed going on honeymoon until the season is over after getting married last weekend and is available to play after missing the quarter-final win over Lurgan.
They won the All-Ireland Gaeltacht title won in June, claimed back-to-back Donegal championships and will have serious designs on an Ulster club title. It is all about taking it one step at time and not looking past this afternoon's hurdle, but do that and the chance to win silverware suddenly becomes very real and captain Grainne Houston believes they are a better team than 12 months ago.
“It's a big weekend for the club with our game and the men in the Donegal in the intermediate county final on Sunday,” said Houston.
“We went out in the quarter-finals last year to St Macartans and we were so, so disappointed.
“That hurt has stayed with us and is driving us on, so to get the win against Lurgan was a big thing for us.
“I feel we have really matured and grown as a team in the last two years.
“Before Glenfin always had five or six big players, who were on the county team and the rest of the team was made up with fringe players but now we are a strong team all over the pitch.
“Our county players bring huge experience but the youth that we have coming through too is superb. We have girls there who have been on the underage county teams and are playing colleges football and that mix between youth and experience is striking the right balance and the team is now about the 20 plus players.
“We are really looking forward to the game and although we don't know much about Bredagh, we know nothing is easy in Ulster and need to put in a big performance to get the win.”