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Huge Weekend For Ladies Football In Tyrone.
It may be only June but the big prizes in Tyrone ladies football will be handed out this weekend and fans of the ladies game are in for a real treat with four very good finals to come at Beragh, Dromore and Greencastle.
The Tyrone senior footballers served up a thriller at Brewster Park on Saturday last as they booked their place in the Ulster senior football final with a 6-17 to 6-10 win over Donegal. A raft of those players will swap their Tyrone shirts for their club colours over what’s anticipated to be three exciting nights of county final fare.
Whatever happens at Greencastle or Dromore, it perhaps won’t get much bigger or even better than the action a St Mary’s Park Beragh on Friday evening as two of Tyrones big hitters, old adversaries indeed, go head to head again. Carrickmore go in search of the Jarleth Kerr Cup, trying to wrestle it away from its current home in the Clogher Valley with St Macartans in the senior football decider. A good way to start this championship weekend.
The senior B Final opens proceedings on Saturday at Dromore, Errigal Ciaran will face the challenge of Cill Iseal who edged a thrilling semi-final over Glenelly by two points on Monday. Donaghmore and Sperrin Og will then take centre stage at Gardrum Park, both keen to emulate the success of Omagh last season in the Ulster junior series as they go head to head.
Sunday evening’s game meanwhile is worthy to of star billing as local rivals and Parish neighbours battle it out for the Intermediate crown. Omagh face Cappagh in a repeat of the 2009 junior final which the Ballinamullan club snatched with a last gasp goal, incidently at the same venue where the intermediate final is set to be played, Greencastle.
The Tyrone county board have appealed to supporters of the clubs and fans of the ladies game in general to come along and support the showpiece finals. County chairman Martin Conway spoke of the quality product that will be on offer.
“ We witnessed a classic Ulster semi final last weekend, now the bulk of Martina’s squad will be involved in our club finals over the weekend. We have already had the junior B final this week and credit to both sides Mna Na Deirge and Pomeroy for some quality football. I expect the remainder of our finals will also be of the highest standards. We are blessed in this county to have so many tremendous footballers and to have them playing in the county finals is a real treat for football fans, we have a quality product in Tyrone but we need people to come out, firstly to support their own clubs and secondly the ladies game”
The reigning senior champions St Macartans are seeking three in a row of Tyrone senior championships but manager Gerard McQuaid is well aware of the threat posed by a hungry and stung Carrickmore, stung of course after missing out last year at Beragh. Despite a brief threat in the final from the long term kingpins of Tyrone ladies football it was “Macs” who turned up the heat to retain the Jarleth Kerr Cup, first played for and won by Carmen in 2006.
11 senior championships and counting, that would be the view of Carrickmore after they accounted for Errigal Ciaran and Dromore, focused and determined to return to the promised land of the senior championship title.
In Gemma Begley Carrickmore have one of the best, if not the best forward in ladies football. Her deft chip over the head of the Donegal goalkeeper on Saturday last served to emphasise just how good and how confident she is. Begley goes into the final having already scored 1-14 in the championship this year. There’s injury concerns for Carmen however with Ailish Gormley still troubled by a knee problem but even a half fit Gormley would still be a scoring threat.
St Macartans have scoring forwards too though, the “Deadly Donnellys” Cathy and Joline have caused trauma to defenders up and down the country. The duo though are not alone, with another Donnelly, Paula also capable of getting on the scoresheet. The 19 year old was on target several times against Glenelly who were brushed aside in a one sided first round clash. Like Carrickmore, Macartans also had one stern test in the championship to date, edging to the decider by four points at the expence of Aodh Ruadh.
Friday’s senior final could be a test of defences with such quality attackers on show but spectators can expect a high scoring affair at the fine facilities of Beragh.
Junior Final/ Senior B
Donaghmore will face Sperrin Og in what looks like being a very keenly contested junior final on Saturday evening, the game part of a good double bill at Dromore, the senior B final pitting Errigal up against Cill Iseal. The junior tie though will be hard to call. Donaghmore have impressed this season both on and off the park. They have produced good league form and accounted for a fancied Loughmacrory side comfortably indeed in the semi-final.
Sperrin Og have had their ups and downs in the past decade but they go into Saturday’s final determined to take the step up to Intermediate ranks again. Eimear Teague, The McCullaghs and co are playing on a side brimming with confidence and will cause Donaghmore problems.
The clash of the all Ireland junior club finalists Omagh St Endas and Cappagh will be one of the most eagerly awaited ties this weekend. A repeat of the 2009 junior final once again back at Greencastle could well serve up a thriller. Cappagh got their hands on the Brenda Logue cup two years ago but Omagh bounced back and last season they accounted for Aghyaran before winning the Ulster junior title on route to the all Ireland junior final which they eventually lost to Galway side Caltra Cuans in a replay after several protracted delays .
This will be Vinny McCullagh’s sides third county final in a row and over that time they have evolved as a unit. Goalkeeper Colleen McCullagh, Charmaine Gormley, skipper Emma Nugent, the versatile Christiane Hunter and the potent Terri McCullagh , Michaela O’Neill and Grainne McGale are still the backbone of the squad, but there are new faces too.
Gary Wallace and former Omagh goalkeeper Aidan O’Neill have instilled some belief in their Cappagh team again. They have been good this term and in recent weeks have scuppered worries of players heading to America, with the talented Clodagh Poyntz among several players opting to put their trips for the Summer on hold. Naiomi McAnulla had already gone to the states but will take her place in the Cappagh line up against Omagh. With Terri Mc Cusker and veteran captain Tracey Wallace in their line up Cappagh will cause St Enda’s problems.
League semi-finals also beckon for both sides and another potential meeting between the teams could well be on the cards. However the championship is the pinnacle and in reality the only show in town. Despite the rivalry between the two clubs there’s a healthy respect between them also and Sunday’s final could well be filled with plenty of tension but surely decent football between two sides capable of playing high quality football.
So four finals in three days, plenty to look forward to and it would be impossible to pick the winners at this stage. Every one of the finalists are capable of winning titles. They all have the quality players and all are hungry for success and for some they are determined to return to the promised land of championship glory