St Macartan's beat Donaghmoyne to land first Ulster club football title

St Macartan's celebrate after winning the Ulster Club SFC at Emyvale Picture by Jim Dunne
St Macartan's celebrate after winning the Ulster Club SFC at Emyvale Picture by Jim Dunne

Ulster Club Senior Football Championship final: St Macartan’s (Tyrone) 3-4 Donaghmoyne (Monaghan) 1-8

ST MACARTAN’S landed their first Ulster senior club title as they overcame reigning All-Ireland champions Donaghmoyne with a nail-biting finish in St Oliver Plunkett Park, Emyvale yesterday.

The Tyrone girls, who are celebrating their 25th anniversary, built up an 11-point advantage at the break, but in the end Donaghmoyne showed all their quality to claw their way right back into the game in the second half, outscoring the Clogher Valley girls 1-7 to 0-1.

The Tyrone champions showed their intent from the start – that they were going to put four previous final defeats behind them and land that title.

They played a high intensity game, giving Donaghmoyne no time on the ball and forcing the errors and turnovers.

It took just 70 seconds for Chloe McCaffrey to set up Cathy Maguire for the opening goal. Louise Kerley hit her side’s only score of the half on four minutes from a free.

The game went without a score for 19 minutes following a Joline Donnelly free on six minutes until Paula Donnelly took advantage of hesitancy by Linda Martin to flick a delivery from her sister Joline over Martin and into the net.

Points from Maguire and Joline Donnelly stretched the lead before Paula Donnelly netted her second with a piece of brilliance and calmness as she cooly chipped the ball over the goalkeeper to give the St Macs girls a 3-3 to 0-1 lead.

They had a glorious chance to extend that lead just three minutes after the re-start, but Linda Martin saved Colleen McQuaid’s penalty although the midfielder did point the rebound.

That pressing game that St Macartan’s played in the first half disappeared. They seemed to tire as Donaghmoyne dug deep.

Fiona Courtney began a spell that yielded an unanswered 1-7 from the 10-time Ulster champions.

The Tyrone side were not helped by having both Shauna McGirr and Slaine McCarroll sin-binned.

Five further points followed for Donaghmoyne before a Louise Kerley goal from the penalty spot suddenly left just three between them with still two minutes of normal time remaining.

Four additional minutes were added, but only a Rosemary Courtney point came in that time as Donaghmoyne also had Lauren Garland sin-binned and St Macartan’s

hung on to finally be crowned the champions of Ulster.

They are now the third Tyrone club to have won an Ulster senior club title, joining three-time winners Carrickmore and Errigal Ciaran.

Lynda Donnelly, who was part of the 1996 St Macartan’s team that lost the very first Ulster final, summed up what it meant to the club, while also paying tribute to the outstanding champions that Donaghmoyne were.

“We have worked and worked and talked and talked about this since I was 13 and we were playing St Eunan’s in an Ulster final in 1996,” she said.

“We talked about how the team should be at the stage of winning an Ulster title and this would have been our fifth Ulster title to lose. So it is just fantastic that we have finally done it for not only ourselves but for anyone who has ever worn the St Macartan’s jersey.

“They are a fantastic team – credit to them, nobody gets to 14 Ulster finals for nothing.

“We are under no illusion how brilliant a team they are. We weren’t really nervous in the second half and the two sin-binnings didn’t really help us.

We thought a few incidents could have gone the other way and it left us having to go defensive.

“When you go too defensive it invites the other team on top of you and that left us scrambling for possession.

“We hung on, but I don’t think we ever thought we were going to lose it. We didn’t want to concede any more scores.

“It is what dreams are made of and I know it is cliché, but it is true and I look around here today and there are girls here that I played with in 1996 and 1995.

“There are people who aren’t here today who would love to be here tand there are people with family members who would give anything to watch that performance and be part of today. It means so much to every single person in the club and we are savouring the moment.”

St Macartan’s: N McKenna; N McGirr, S McQuaid, M Treanor; S McCarroll, M Donnelly, L Donnelly; S McRory, C McQuaid (0-1); C Maguire (1-1), J Donnelly (0-2 frees), P Donnelly (2-0); S McGirr, C McCaffrey, M McMenamin.

Subs: T O’Hagan for S McGirr (57)

Donaghmoyne: L Martin; J Geoghegan, F Courtney (0-1), A Keenan; R Courtney (0-1), S Courtney, J Courtney; H Kingham, C Courtney; G Comiskey (0-1), N Callan, A McElroy; E McElroy (0-1), L Kerley (1-4, 1-0 pen, 0-3 frees), S McConnell.

Subs: A Garland for Keenan, L Garland for McElroy, R McConnell for S McConnell (all h-t)

Referee: B Rice (Down)