Tyrone ladies launch their new season away to Monaghan in the Bord Gais National League this Sunday, writes Damien Donnelly.
The Red Hand run to last year’s All-Ireland final with eventual winners Dublin caught the attention of many, including the All-Star judges who awarded accolades to St Macartan sisters Cathy and Joline Donnelly plus a nomination for Maura Kelly.
Martina Dillon has since taken over the management reins and there is bound to be a certain amount of transition time as the 2011 squad is moulded into one that can hopefully make another strong bid for honours.
The league is a good starting pad and Tyrone will be endeavouring to string together not just good displays but pick up a steady supply of points in the process.
It’s a tough division, though, and the Red Hands won’t have that much leeway against several battle hardened sides seeking solid platforms themselves.
A competitive Division 1 line-up includes Cork, Donegal, Galway, Kildare, Laois, Mayo, Monaghan and Tyrone.
St Macartan Ladies, by the way, honoured their All-Star winning sisters Cathy and Joline Donnelly at the club’s recent dinner dance at Monaghan’s Westenra Hotel where St Macartan’s woman and National Ladies Treasurer Mary Connolly performed guest of honour duties.
The St Macartan siblings received specially framed photos from the club. Six St Macartan players in total were on the 2010 Red Hand panel, including Cathy and Joline’s sister Maria plus their cousin Lynda Donnelly, along with Maura Kelly and Seanan Loughran.
Each girl was presented with a gift by their proud club in recognition of these representative achievements. St Macs also enjoyed U-14, U-16 and senior success during 2010.
St Enda’s from Omagh won Tyrone and Ulster junior championship titles before reaching a much delayed All-Ireland final that eventually went to a replay reversal for the brave St Enda’s squad.
An Charraig Mhor won senior league honours, with notable achievements by a range of other clubs right across the board in ladies football during the course of a memorable year.
Sunday’s league launch signals the dawn of a new ladies football campaign at inter-county level, with club action to follow further down the line. Best wishes to all teams at all levels.