Donaghmoyne put Ulster and All-Ireland titles on the line in final with St Macartan's
Ulster Club Senior Ladies' Football Championship final: Donaghmoyne (Monaghan) v St Macartan’s (Tyrone)
(Saturday, Galbally, 3pm)
THE queenpins of ladies football in Ulster, Donaghmoyne, put both their provincial and All-Ireland titles on the line on Saturday against Tyrone champions St Macartan’s in an eagerly anticipated Ulster Senior Club Championship final.
This is a repeat of the 2009 final, which Donaghmoyne won with ease, but one feels that St Macartan’s are a more accomplished side now and they know if you want to be the best you must beat the best. But you cannot write Donaghmoyne off, ever.
This is a team who know little about defeat. Their last championship defeat was two years ago at this same stage when they lost to eventual All-Ireland champions Termon. This is their 13th Ulster final in a row since their first back in 2004 when they collected their very first Ulster title. Their track record speaks won nine, two after a replay, lost three. St Macartan’s were last at this stage seven years ago.
They know opportunities for provincial silverware do not come about often and no doubt manager Ryan McMenamin and his backroom team will have taken the utmost care in preparation for the biggest game on the biggest stage at Ulster level.
Captain Cathy Donnelly believes the competition for places on the squad is one of the reasons for the club's success so far in 2016: “Being in an Ulster final is a new experience for a lot of the younger girls on the team. We had a great run in Tyrone this year and there is great competition for places which has helped bring the team on,” said the forward.
“There is huge competition and rivalry within Tyrone and it is always a big achievement for the team that wins, I suppose the Ulster club competition has felt like bonus territory for us.”
Donnelly knows the odds are stacked against them and Ulster has proved to be a difficult competition for them but that is only because it yields such high standards from the competing teams.
“Our record in Ulster hasn't been great, it is a big step up when you come out of the county Donaghmoyne have beaten us on a few occasions including the 2009 final. They are the benchmark for any club team, we can only admire their achievements and know that we need to greatly improve on our performance against Moville and be at our best to compete with them this weekend.”
Whether it is a first final or 13th, they all hold the same importance for Donaghmoyne says their captain Amanda Casey. She is hoping it will not be an unlucky 13 as she is expecting St Macartan’s to throw everything at them for the 60 minutes in an attempt to become only the second team from Tyrone to win senior club honours at a provincial level, the only other team being Errigal Ciarán, the first team to beat Donaghmoyne in an Ulster final, back in 2007.
“Every final is so important to us. We love Ulster final day,” said Casey.
“We hate to lose like any other team so it means a lot to us all. For me personally to win would be brilliant as I know theres not too many seasons left in me. We will give it our all and hopefully we can come out with the win.”
Ulster Club Intermediate Ladies' Football Championship final:
Kinawley (Fermanagh) v Shane O’Neill's (Armagh) (Sunday, Derrymacash, 2pm)
IT IS a case of new territory for one team and a second provincial final in three years for the other as Kinawley and Shane O’Neill's prepare to meet in the Ulster Intermediate Club Championship decider on Sunday.
For Fermanagh champions Kinawley, it is a first ever Ulster decider and the club is riding high at present with their senior mens team also in provincial club action on Sunday afternoon in Corrigan Park against Aghagallon hence the early midday throw-in and Belfast venue for their lady footballers.
This is the third time Kinawley have represented Fermanagh in the Ulster club but it is the only tine they have gone beyond the first game and captain Aine McGovern is hoping they can go the whole way having seen off Ardboe and then Glen in the semi-finals.
“As a club we have never got to an Ulster final before and with our men playing the same day representing Fermanagh in Ulster there is a great buzz around the club,” said the midfielder.
“This is bonus territory, having never got out of the first round so this is a great achievement for us. We are just taking each game as it comes and we will do the same on Sunday.”
The current Shane O’Neill’s squad still retains the 2013 winning junior team; that year they defeated Aghyaran in the final, and with a couple of years at county intermediate level under their belt now, this unit has grown stronger together.
They needed to call on that strength and resolve in their semi-final win over Truagh and the old adage that goals win games rang true with the Armagh champions hitting five goals in a game their opponents also scored 11 times, and with a very skilful forward line that includes Armagh Allstar Aimee Mackin and her sister Blathnaid as well as captain Louise Kenny, Kinawley will need to be prepared for that attacking threat.
But what happened in the 2013 final does not guarantee success this time around and Kenny is staying very grounded as to their chances: “It is important not to become complacent in the competition as there are a lot of good teams in Ulster. Now that we are in an Ulster final, we will take it on as any other match, the same preparation will be carried out and it's up to the girls on the day to perform well.
“Our first target for the year was to win the Armagh championship. After that we took each match as our next goal. A lot of work has been put in behind the scenes which a lot of people forget about. The girls have worked hard all year and winning on Sunday would be the icing on the cake.”
Ulster Club Junior Ladies' Football Championship final: Kingscourt (Cavan) v Latton (Monaghan) (Saturday, Galbally, 1pm)
‘NEIGHBOURS’ from rival counties will put friendships to the one side for 60 minutes tomorrow as Latton and Kingscourt go to battle for Ulster Junior Club honours.
The two teams have players who are friends with each other and that has given this championship final, the first of a double header at Galbally, some added spice on top of the usual Cavan/Monaghan match rivalry.
Both teams are in dream territory, training in late October in preparation for an Ulster final. However, for Latton and Kingscourt, that far off dream of being crowned Ulster champions is within touching distance and both the champions of Monaghan and Cavan know that.
“We are in an Ulster final,” said Latton captain Lavina Connolly.
“That was a dream at the start of the year. But as the games were coming so quickly after each other we hadn't really time to dwell on where we were in the competition. We just focused on our next game of football and what we were going to do to try and win it. And that's what we'll do this week also going into Saturday”s game.”
Three years ago Kingscourt did not have a ladies football team and so what they have achieved in the short time since has been remarkable. To collect a county title itself is a remarkable feat so to blaze a trail in Ulster and reach a provincial decider at the first attempt shows this Kingscourt side is not one to take lightly.
They have defeated Saval after extra time and Coalisland on route to tomorrow”s final and while captain Nicole Fleming admits their county championship was the only title on their radar after winning their first provincial game, they quickly realised they have what it takes to go the whole way, if they wanted.
“This is all bonus territory. We were just focusing on winning the championship and when we achieved that I don't think any of us still thought we would make it to an Ulster final. I think when we won the first round of Ulster is when we all realised we have every chance of going on further,” she said.
This will be Latton”s third game in consecutive weekends having had several delays, not of their own doing, in the earlier stages of the competition. They came through a hard fought win over Donegal side St Nauls in the semi-final last weekend and the question is will they have physically recovered sufficiently enough to hit the ground running against Kingscourt tomorrow?
Club football at its best is unpredictable, at junior level even more so. There is no doubting the hunger of these two teams and how much they want to win on Saturday.