Kirsty McGuinness: All-Ireland ladies football triumph would cap all awards
KIRSTY McGuinness is no stranger to success.
Her ‘trophy cabinet’ includes countless county championship medals with St Paul’s, two Ulster intermediate club winners’ medals and an All-Ireland junior medal with Antrim.
Then there are the international soccer caps with Northern Ireland and league title winners’ medals with Linfield all held in equally as high regard as the other.
But McGuiness admits if her beloved St Paul’s can get over the line in Saturday’s All-Ireland Intermediate Club Championship final against Naomh Ciaran of Offaly (Kingspan Breffni Park, 2.30pm) this would be the best of them all.
“In a sense it would be the sweetest yet,” said the 25-year-old.
“I have played with St Paul’s since I was eight, I grew up with a lot of the girls, went to the same primary school and secondary school as them.
“We are like a family, everyone looks out for each other and we would do anything for each other.
“This is the first time St Paul’s have been in an All-Ireland final, the first time a team from Antrim has been in one, it’s real special; it is huge.
“To win it, even just for Brian [Coyle] would be amazing. He has done so much for ladies football in St Paul’s and given so much, we want to do it for him too.”
McGuinness has featured in numerous cup finals for Linfield, including the last two Irish Cup finals, although they lost both to her former club Glentoran, while back in September as she captained The Blues to a fourth successive Irish League title that went down to the final day of the season.
Their last league game against Derry City was in itself a cup final as the needed to win at least 7-0 to deny Sion Swifts the title – they won 10-0 with McGuinness scoring five - and while she is certainly not short on experience when it comes to playing on the big stage she says there will always be nerves.
“There will be a few nerves of course, I think they are good to have because it shows you really want something, but hopefully they will disappear after the ball is thrown in.
“We wanted this from the start of the year. We knew after coming down from senior that we could give intermediate a real push and this was always in the back of our heads but after winning the semi-final it was only then that we allowed ourselves to think about it because we had so much to do before that."
McGuinness made her senior international debut for Northern Ireland back in 2013 against Bosnia and has played for both the Under 17 and under 19 teams.
Sporting blood runs through the McGuinness family with her brother Caomhan out on loan at Dungannon Swifts from Linfield Swifts while her younger sister Caitlin, only is only 17, plays alongside her for both St Paul’s and Linfield and she also made her senior Northern Ireland debut earlier this year.
Youngest sister Orleigha, who is just 13, is one to watch for the future.
Although McGuinness has opted out of international soccer this year because of her studies at Belfast Met, she hopes to be able to play alongside Caitlin in Kenny Shiels’ setup in the future but in the meantime she is happy getting the chance to do it with St Paul’s where there is always some competition between the two.
“Even at training the other night we were trying to outsprint each other,” she laughs.
“Caitlin always tries to score more than me and I try to make sure she doesn’t. It’s special to play alongside her and hopefully some day soon our other sister Orleigha will join us too.”
Saturday November 23 2019
All-Ireland Intermediate Club Championship Final: Kingspan Breffni at 2.30pm:
Naomh Pól CLG /St Paul's GAC v Naomh Ciaran
(Referee: Mel Kenny)
All-Ireland Senior Club Championship Final: LIT Gaelic Grounds, Limerick at 5pm:
Kilkerrin-Clonberne v Mourneabbey
(Referee: Maggie Farrelly)
Sunday November 24 2019
All-Ireland Junior Club Championship Final: Duggan Park at 2pm
CL McHale Rovers v Donoughmore GAA
(Referee: Siobhan Coyle)