Football

Armagh's Grace Ferguson relishing playing before a packed Clones on Ulster final day

Grace Ferguson is relishing the opportunity to play for Armagh in the main support to Sunday's men's Ulster SFC final in Clones Picture by INPHO/Tom Maher
Grace Ferguson is relishing the opportunity to play for Armagh in the main support to Sunday's men's Ulster SFC final in Clones Picture by INPHO/Tom Maher

IT must be business as usual says Armagh defender Grace Ferguson ahead of their championship clash with Cavan in St Tiernach’s Park, Clones on Sunday (1.45pm)

The defending Ulster champions will play in the curtain-raiser to the men’s senior provincial final between Ferguson’s native Armagh and the current champions Derry and there is a game to be won – or at least drawn – if they are to book their place in the Ulster final and keep their four-in-a-row bid alive.

“It’s an exciting time to be playing county football in Armagh and we’re delighted that the men have reached the Ulster final. There’s a great buzz in our squad having won Division Two and we hope to push on in the Ulster championship,” said Ferguson.

“It's a great privilege being able to play before the men on Sunday, but we’ve been told not to let the occasion get to us. We’re a squad of experienced players with our own job to do on Sunday, so hopefully we can go out and put in a good performance.

“Cavan are a very strong and defensive unit with some great players, so we won’t be taking our previous win against them for granted. We will need to be at the top of our game if we are to beat Cavan, as they’ll be giving it everything on Sunday.”

With Clones expected to be a full capacity and Armagh known to have huge numbers of supporters, Ferguson hopes that the Orchard faithful will make the journey to Monaghan early and take in their game first, although she has seen an increase in the number of supporters attending Armagh ladies games.

“It would be good to see people going down early to watch our game, a vocal support can really spur you on. There has definitely been a big increase in numbers coming to support us which is great to see. Also, for those that can’t make the games, there has been good coverage online thanks to the LGFA. I think it’s important for the women’s game to be as visible as possible to inspire younger generations of players,” said the Ballyhegan Davitts player.

Armagh come into this final round-robin game on the back of a win over Donegal last weekend although they did not have it all their own way and had to come from behind at half-time before winning by eight points.

Having not played well in the first half, says Ferguson, to fight back and to win was encouraging and she hopes that will stand to them when the going get tough.

“We were playing against a strong breeze in the first half and were slow to get going. At half-time, we were overall quite disappointed with our first-half performance and knew we weren’t doing ourselves justice. Thankfully, we put in a good shift in the second half and got over the line.

“I think that will definitely stand us. We needed to dig deep and work hard in order to come out on top last Sunday. I think that’s a skill, which will be important not only for the remainder of the Ulster championship, but also for the All-Ireland campaign.”

Ferguson is hoping an Armagh win will set the tone for the rest of the day that will culminate in an Orchard double of course.