Down captain Doherty targeting Ulster intermediate championship success

Mourne girls face Cavan in championship opener on Sunday

Down's Meghan Doherty
Down's Meghan Doherty believes they are contenders for the Ulster intermediate championship after their All-Ireland Junior Championship success last year (Piaras Ó Mídheach / SPORTSFILE)

DOWN captain Meghan Doherty hopes to cap off a memorable week with victory over Cavan in the first round of the Ulster Intermediate Championship on Sunday.

The centre half back was named at number six in the Division Three Team of the League earlier this week for her performances for the Mourne County during the league, which saw Down finish third in the table. It was double delight for Down with team-mate Orla Boyle selected at corner back.

Doherty will lead her team-mates out on home soil at Glenn GAC as they make their return to the intermediate championship, following last year’s All-Ireland Junior success, after relegation in 2022.

Coming in on the back of a good league run, that saw them bounce back from their two early defeats to record five consecutive wins and narrowly miss out on promotion to Division Two, Doherty is looking forward to what the championship season might hold.

“I can’t wait until the start of championship, it’s a great part of the season, especially after the league campaign when you have played so many games, you really get a feel for what your team is capable of and how well you can play together,” she said.

“Preparations have been good, a level up which is to be expected for championship. The girls have been pushing really hard and it’s great to see.”

Opponents Cavan find themselves in new territory after losing their 10-year senior championship status last season.

They face a highly competitive field in this year’s Ulster intermediate championship. Monaghan, Antrim, who are the defending champions winning their first intermediate title on the back of their 2022 All-Ireland junior success, Tyrone, who are flying high having been promoted to Division One, and Down now back up provide formidable opposition for the Breffni girls.

A delighted Down Ladies football captain, Meghan Doherty.
Meghan Doherty lifts the trophy after Down's win over Limerick in last year's All-Ireland Junior Football Championship final at Croke Park

Doherty, though, believes that Down have what it takes to win the provincial title but feels that Tyrone will be favourites.

“Monaghan and Cavan will be new to us as it has been years since we would have come across them,” she said.

This is an exciting opportunity to go up against new opposition. You want to play against the top teams as this is what challenges you and we are excited for new challenges. Antrim being the holders will also pose a threat.

“Winning Ulster is a realistic goal, I think for every team it has to be a realistic goal. If you don’t believe you can win that will show in your performance. I think the mental preparations are just as important as the physical ones.

“We have worked hard and proved from last year and this year that we are good enough to be in this intermediate championship so we will have to show this in our performances.

“I’d say going on paper and the results from the National League, Tyrone will be favourites. They’ve had a very strong campaign and with winning promotion to Division One that will give them good momentum. But it’s championship football and anything can happen.”