BY JACK MURRAY
It’s been six years since the Glenfin Ladies side have run out in the Ulster Championship. Their sole foray in the competition was in 2011, following their first ever county senior championship title.
They powered their way to the provincial final that year but heartbreakingly lost out to Donaghmoyne of Monaghan in Clones at the last hurdle. Two of today’s most formidable intercounty footballers had lined out that day for Glenfin and between Yvonne McMonagle and Karen Guthrie, they notched up the total tally of scores for their side.
So, on Sunday they will make their long awaited return to the Ulster Championship as they prepare to play host the Tyrone champions, St MacCartan’s of Augher.
Glenfin have looked particularly good this season and have already competed in a total of four finals in 2017. They lost out to Moville last weekend in the Shield final although it’s difficult to read into that performance as they played without any of their county players and with a number of players on holidays.
Their Manager, Francie Martin, is quick to point out that they will be back at full strength this weekend and that their familiar star quality will be lining out in what will be their biggest match of the year so far.
They will be hoping that that quality can add to the stash of silverware they’ve already gathered this year – which includes a County Gaeltacht title, League title and County Championship title.
Standing in their way on Sunday however, St MacCartan’s, are an impressive side and have won nine Tyrone county senior titles since they were established 25 years ago.
Francie Martin says he watched a DVD of their county final performance and says he was particularly impressed by the Donnelly girls. There are five Donnellys on the St MacCartan’s side – with every one of them well able to take scores. Among them are the experienced Jolene and Cathy Donnelly – sisters who were among the last Tyrone players to win All-Ireland All Stars back in 2010.
Martin says that his side is well up for the challenge though and that they working hard towards that goal, “We’re making a big push to try and win Ulster,” he said, “At our last training session, we’d over twenty players out so things are going good.”
He says that there is some real quality in his squad and points to the recognisable names of Yvonne McMonagle, Karen Guthrie, Grainne Houston and Katie Herron who have stood out in the county squad as players who can compete with the best in the country.
Martin says in the past they had conceded too many goals but that is something they’ve worked hard to address, “In the semi-final against Termon we didn’t concede any goals and in the final against Moville, their only goal came from a penalty. We’re trying to limit those chances at the back. We’ve brought in a sweeper system and that’s been working for us.”
At the other end of the pitch, he says they’ll be trying to get the ball to the ever impressive, Yvonne McMonagle, who can easily find the back of the net.
“We’ve a good game plan and we’ll be sticking to that,” Martin said.
“We’re strong in the middle of the field too with Grainne Houston, Katie Herron and Karen Guthrie. We’ve plenty of other good players too who are coming on well. Sinead McGinty in full back is very good and our captain, Anne Marie McGlynn, in centre half back is playing very well.”
He says that McMonagle undoubtedly deserves an All-Star this year and that fellow nominee, Karen Guthrie, should receive one too.
The last positive that he pointed to was the fact that they got a home draw for the game.
“We’re expecting a big crowd out on Sunday,” he said,
“Home venue is going to be a big help too. Our supporters turn out well and I hope that for such an occasion we get another large crowd out to get behind the girls.”