DONEGAL Ladies remain firmly in the mix for a potential Lidl National League Division one semi-final ahead of their penultimate league game against Mayo in Swinford on Saturday afternoon, throw-in 2pm.
The fixture was given a little extra spice this week with confirmation that Mayo were awarded their league points against Kerry, after the Kingdom fielded ineligible players in their Division 1 clash last month.
It means Mayo are now on 9 points – and in fifth spot on the table – a point behind Donegal and Galway.
Mayo are at home to Donegal this weekend before they end their campaign against Monaghan while Donegal finish their league programme at home to league leaders Cork on Sunday week.
“The ruling by the LGFA Central Council doesn’t really make that much of a difference to us. We knew that we would have to win at least one of our two remaining games to reach the semi-finals and that still stands,” Joint-Manager Damian Devaney said.
The MacCumhaills club-man, who was the team’s trainer last year under Micheal Maughton’s stewardship, is delighted with the way the Ladies are performing.
“Seemingly, Kerry fielded an ineligible player in their league meeting with Mayo last month and Mayo have got the points. It makes this weekend’s game that little bit more important alright,” he conceded.
Devaney believes the Donegal squad is getting stronger and stronger with each passing week.
All Star forward Geraldine McLaughlin got another good hour under her belt against Kerry as she continues her recovery from injury while Kate Keaney (Four Masters) is also edging closer to a return following knee surgery.
“We used 25 players last Sunday, including five girls who didn’t feature at all last year. We’ve also used all three goalkeepers in the league so all 31 members of the squad have been given game-time in the league. They’ve done very well and, Kate Keaney aside, we’ve a fully fit squad and if we make the latter stages of the league she will be back in contention too, so all in all, it’s going alright,” he said.
Donegal have been drawn to play Monaghan in the Ulster Championship semi-final, a game which has been pencilled in for June 10, with the prospect of an Ulster Final seven days later.
With that in mind Donegal would like to opportunity to get a few more competitive matches via the league semi final and final. They beat Galway in last year’s semi final before losing out by a point to Cork in the decider.
Termon goalkeeper Rosin McCafferty, who is now based in Liverpool, was not involved in the league last season nor was fellow Termon player Olive McCafferty.
Another player back in the fold this year is St Eunan’s forward Ciara Grant, a medical student, as well as Naomh Conaill’s Alannah McDonnell, while young Sarah Jane McDonald (Moville) has also fought her way through to the senior team.
“We played a challenge match last week against Westmeath in Mullingar which gave Geraldine (McLaughlin) some game time while it was also Deirdre Foley’s first game in quite a while,” he said.
“They’re all putting in a massive effort and they’re going really well. They’re working hard in the gym and out on the training pitch. We’ve had a few busy weekends,” he added.
Eight members of squad continue to train in Dublin on a Tuesday night while the home based players gather in Convoy on a Wednesday evening.
“We have a lot of very good players and there’s been massive improvements since we first started working with them at the start of the year. A lot of stuff they’re doing at training they’ve been taking out onto the pitch. The referee at the weekend even commented on how much their tackling had improved since the first league match a number of weeks ago,” he said.
While Donegal had 20 points to spare over Kerry last time out, Devaney said that things were ‘tight enough’ for the first quarter.
“We were fortunate enough to get goals at the right time which then allowed us to empty the bench. It will be a much tigher affair this weekend. Cora Staunton may still be Australia but they’ve a lot of very good players. It will be a real test,” he said.
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