Not all fairy tales have happy endings but Down boss Martina Rooney proud of her team
IN THE immediate aftermath of Down's 1-13 to 0-9 defeat in Croke Park on Sunday, manager Martina Rooney was still feeling the pain of defeat, but yesterday she was able to reflect more on the journey travelled.
"I'm incredibly proud of the girls. I couldn't ask any more of them. Not all fairy tales have happy endings.
"To be in Croke Park and part of the occasion is amazing,'' she said.
"We'll maybe not appreciate it today or tomorrow or next week but the girls will look back on this and learn from it and come back stronger.
“We (the management team) asked the players to buy into us and they did and we had such a great summer.
"The Ulster title was a great starting point and that got us going in the All-Ireland.
“We worked very hard for the results that we got and we made Croke Park one step at a time. Cork probably had it in their head that they were going to be in Croke Park and avenge defeats over the last two years. We were different.
"Every game was literally another step and the more steps we took the greater the possibilities for us.”
Nevertheless the Croke Park defeat still rankles with the Newry Primary School teacher.
“We played in fits and starts on Sunday and you couldn't say that we really got into our stride,'' she added.
"As for the sending off (Sara Louise Carr's two yellow cards)...
"I've seen it on TV last night and I am not convinced either one of them were cards not to mind the second one – I actually thought at the time that it was a free for us.
"A yellow card offence, most definitely not.
"We never gave up, we fought to the bitter end and kept at it.
"I suppose Dearbhla (Magee) going off (with a blood injury) unsettled us a wee bit. We had come out of the blocks really well.”
However the rookie manager was adamant that Down can bounce back and take the title in the future.
“Most definitely,'' she said.
“What this summer has brought out in the players is a realisation of their capability and they will all see that clearly, but maybe not immediately.
“They are going straight into club championship fixtures this week and that will take over from Croke Park.”
There are three quarter-finals in the All-Ireland senior championship this weekend with An Ríocht already into the semi-finals before All-Ireland fever gripped the county leading to the suspension of the club fixtures.
Senior champions Clonduff will start their title defence with a game against 2017 Intermediate champions Castlewellan, Liatroim will play last year's losing finalists Ballygalget while Portaferry, with the classy scoring touch of Niamh Mallon will take on outsiders Ballela.
There is also a semi-final double-header in Hillotown on Sunday.
Even the manager has to prepare herself for an Ulster Club Championship quarter-final in Inniskeen on Sunday after her club Mayobridge won the Down Junior title last weekend with Martina at full-back.
“That was an enjoyable distraction in the run-up to the All-Ireland final and great for the club because we were out of camogie for a year or two and a couple of us were playing with Clonduff.”
And would Martina stay on in the job that no one seemed to want earlier in the year?
“I don't know. I would imagine that you don't make decisions like that immediately after a defeat or immediately after a win,'' she stated.
“I'm very busy at the moment, I'm just back to school and Mayobridge has this Ulster match coming up.
“I have a busy career and a lot on in my life at the moment.
“When things settle down, we will look at it and see if we can offer anything more.”
Armagh Senior Championship semi-final replay: Granemore 1-10 Keady 0-6
GRANEMORE may have been trailing for most of the drawn semi-final last week, but they took charge of the replay after 20 minutes and sealed a spot in Sunday's final with a goal in the 48th minute from Ciarraí Devlin.
Yes last week's goal-keeper turned score-getter to keep Granemore on course for a third successive title. She top-scored with 1-4, her goal a first time strike of a pass from Rachel Merry who had scored 1-7 out of 1-10 the last day.
This time Keady honed in on the county forward and Devlin exploited the space and was involved in most of Granemore's scores.
Ciara Hill was a dominant figure at midfield while Grainne Kelly and Colleen O'Hare were strong at the back in front of the goalie, Bronagh Mone, who conducted herself well.
Keady, much like the last day, found Granemore difficult to break down and after the break never really looked like reeling the lead in.
It was 0-4 to 0-3 after 20 minutes, but points from Merry (free) and Devlin opened a gap to 0-7 to 0-3 by the break.
Orlagh Murray scored a Keady point on the re-start, but Rachel Merry responded with a free and it stood at 0-8 to 0-4 until the goal in the 48th minute.
After it there was only going to be one winner.
Granemore: Ciarri Devlin 1-4, Rachael Merry 0-4, Cariona Doyle 0-1, Grainne Kelly 0-1
Keady: Orlagh Murray 0-2, Catherine Beagan 0-2, Aimee Brennan 0-1, Sarah Molloy 0-1
Walsh's Hotel Derry Senior Championship Draw
Thursday September 13: 7.30pm in Ballerin
Castledawson v Swatragh
Friday September 14: 7pm in Swatragh
Slaughtneil v Ballinascreen
Saturday September 15: 2pm in Magherafelt
Newbridge v Lavey
Glenshane Coach Hire Derry Intermediate Championship Draw
Saturday September 15
12pm: Kilrea v Glen
2pm: Greenlough v Banagher
4pm: Dungiven v Bellaghy
Sunday September 16: 1pm in Greenlough
Ballinascreen v Slaughtneil
** SEE Walsh's Hotel Derry Senior Camogie Championship preview in tomorrow's Irish News