Maeve Monaghan sure Monaghan are heading in the right direction

Victory over Tyrone saw the Farney county reach the intermediate final, where they will face Down on Sunday

Maeve Monaghan (right) and Megan Doherty
Monaghan captain Maeve Monaghan with Down skipper Megan Doherty

A TEAM will have collective targets or goals when they set out at the beginning of each new season – be it to stay up in a particular division, win a league title, win a provincial championship or an All-Ireland title.

Whether or not a player sits down as an individual and sets their own targets and goals is purely subjective.

One who did just that for 2024, along with her team-mates, is Monaghan captain Maeve Monaghan.

One of those targets was reaching the Ulster intermediate final this year and on Sunday, Monaghan will lead her county out at St Tiernach’s Park, Clones where they will face Down for provincial honours (1pm).

It was not just thrown out to have something but was genuinely driven by not getting there last year, losing to eventual champions Antrim, in the semi-final, which undoubtedly hurt.

It also became a bigger challenge when you look at the player turnover from last year to this, a new management team led by Darren Greenan, and bringing on board new players.

“This year, we had put our own individual targets we had for the year, reaching the final was on mine, considering not getting there last year. We are a young team, with lots to learn and gain, but we have gelled well together, young and old and we work hard for each other,” said Monaghan.

Monaghan was only 15 when her county’s senior ladies last won an Ulster title – back in 2016, when they defeated Cavan in the decider. She recalls watching on as they lifted a 10th title, dreaming one day that she might be in the same position.

“I remember being a 15-year-old spectator that day in 2016, and it was just amazing watching on and hoping it would be me one day.

“A win for Monaghan would be fantastic, a confidence boost not just for us as players, but for juvenile players all over the county to give them something to hope for, just like I did.”

Their semi-final win over Tyrone will have given them a huge boost in confidence going into Sunday’s showdown with Down, who they are meeting for the first time since 2011, when they faced off in the Ulster senior semi-finals.

“The win over Tyrone was indeed a confidence boost, and a stepping stone to where we would like to be.

“Tyrone are a strong set-up and we had lost to them previously in the league, so the win the other week was a positive step in the right direction.

“I do think this will be a battle on Sunday and a good match for both involved. It will not be an easy win for either team.”