Tyrone ladies finished up their Lidl national league campaign with a heavy loss away to Kerry on Sunday. The focus switches now to the start of the new Tyrone adult league season with three full divisions of action to look forward to. With no relegation last season the promoted teams from junior and intermediate have all moved up increasing the size of all divisions, ten now in senior, eight in intermediate and ten again in junior with the new Clonoe senior side about to make their senior debut.
Sperrin Og join Clann na nGael and Glenelly in the first division while in the second tier the new clubs are Loughmacrory, champions Trillick and league winners Drumragh.
The new season offers several clubs a chance to redeem themselves after a poor 2015. The likes of Omagh who failed to finish their division one campaign, Killeeshil and Dungannon will all perhaps have a point to prove. At Intermediate level this will be a big year for Drumragh as they finally make the move up the ranks led by Neamh Woods. Their promotion further evidence of the great work being done at Clanabogan Park.
Ladies Division 1 Senior League
St Macartans V Aodh Ruadh
St Macartan’s have made no secret of the fact that they want to secure the Tyrone senior football championship again. An important stepping stone to that of course would be a good league campaign.
Cathy, Joline and Maria Donnelly have left their county careers behind now and they, like manager Ryan McMenamin are focused on club football. A winning start would be the best fillip for the Clogher Valley girls but Aodh Ruadh will, as always serve up a difficult opener.
Killeeshil St Mary’s V Clann na nGael
Brimming with talent Clann na nGael are one of the quality teams in the top flight this year, Brian Dooher remains at the helm and after winning the league last year following on from their tense championship loss to neighbours Glenelly they will come into division one full of confidence.
The Conwells. Anne Daly and Angie McShane afford Clann experience and youth and they will relish life in division one. Kileeshill themselves have a fine mix of youth and experience throughout, from Lisa Marie Skeffington to the talented county minors Shannon Stevenson, Shauna Stevenson, Caitlin Campbell.
Omagh St Enda’s V Cappagh
It’s hard to beat a local derby and in recent years in the ladies game there have been some clinkers between St Enda’s and Cappagh. Even county finals have come down to the wire and league games have had plenty of fireworks but times have changed for these two clubs.
Last season Omagh looked like a pale shadow of themselves as they lost a raft of decent players leaving a handful of quality coupled with youngsters. They failed to finish the season while Cappagh suffered a mauling in the championship against Errigal. Like their neighbours the Ballinamullen outfit lost players and in another year in similar circumstances would have been in the drop zone.
The St Enda’s have to their credit added several youngsters to their ranks and coupled with the vastly experienced Christiane Hunter, Cara McCrossan, Charmaine Gormley and Emma Collins, they finally look to be getting back to normal. Cappagh may have lost a couple of players but despite a fractured pre-season they have quality players with plenty of talent. Terri McCusker, and Clodagh Poytnz offer them some great options, but on Tuesday Naomi McAnulla left the St Marys for Lurgan and that is certainly a major setback.
Errigal Ciaran V Sperrin Og
The county champions will start this campaign very much favourites to retain the championship and perform well in the league. Last year afforded Tiffy Quinn and Neilly McAleer a chance to use the league to blood new players. It proved to be a successful enterprise as they claimed the Jarleth Kerr Cup, enjoyed a good league run and found a handful of key performers. Geardine McGinley remains out after knee surgery but they still have plenty of quality with Shannon Quinn and Maria Canavan two of the outstanding players from last year.
Quinn is focused on a good league run but he was well aware of the challenge this weekend as they play newly promoted Sperrin Og. While other clubs lost players last year Greencastle were lucky enough to have several key players return and they will be keen to be a force again.
Carrickmore St Colmcille’s V Glenelly St Joseph’s
Carrickmore brought in a clutch of new players last year and while the more experienced players remain they have another big squad this term and like St Macartan’s are keen to return to the top table again. Gemma Begley has swapped county colours for club only so it leaves her firmly focused. There was an end to era for the Colmcilles on Tuesday as veteran forward and former all star Lynette McShane (Hughes) parted company with her home club to join Coalisland in the junior ranks, a massive boost for the Fianna.
Carmen face a tough enough opener on the opening day though as 2015 intermediate champions Glenelly will be keen to get off the mark with a win. The St Joseph’s claimed an Ulster title last year and gained much needed experience as a result. In Siobhan Sheerin they have a great finisher while they also have Patricia Morris, Fiona Marie Devlin and the experienced Aishling O’Kane available.
2015 was a hugely successful season for Glenelly and their management would feel they have the ability to really challenge in the top tier not just make up the numbers. A good start though is vital.
Ladies Division 2 Intermediate League
The Junior champions Trillick open their division two campaign with a trip to Fr Rocks on Sunday. Cookstown were tipped to do well last term but came up short in the end. Loughmacrory fresh from junior ranks again are away to Louise Daly’s Ardboe. The O’Donovan Rossa’s have been working hard in the pre-season under the guidance of the new manager, a boost too for the ladies game in the county with a lady taking the helm of such a competitive club. Like the Lough girls Ardboe have come close to silverware in recent years.
Dromore have several players missing this term as they open at home to an Emma Hegarty led Donaghmore. Catherine McNabb and Aine Flannigan are available for the hosts.
Sunday meanwhile will be a red letter day for Drumragh. They head to Aghyaran to make their intermediate league bow, a massive occasion for the club as after several years battling in the junior ranks they beat Trillick in the third division league final to make the step up.
Great work has been done over the years at youth level but spearheaded by Neamh Woods, Joanne Barrett and young county minor Josephine Quinn this youthful Sarsfields team are ready to make their mark. They have put in a lot of hard work pre-season and will be well prepared for life in the second tier. They have had wonderful support too from all aspects of the club and an opening day win away to the Davog’s would be the perfect start. The hosts however will have something to say about that and while they are missing a couple of players they will again be strong challengers.
Ladies Division 3 Junior League
A new look junior league will feature ten clubs all capable of winning the league and championship. Great strides made in recent years by Clonoe O’Rahilly’s at youth level will see a major step forward by the East Tyrone club as they enter an adult team and they open against another progressive club in the guise of Aghaloo who also perform at this level for the first time.
The two new clubs have worked so hard to get to this stage they certainly deserve great credit. Neither will be there to just make up the numbers.
Coalisland have lost several players in the close season but sprang a major surprise this week by adding former county player and all star Lynette McShane (Hughes) to their squad the play Beragh in the opening round. Badoney head to Fintona while Galbally Pearses have home advantage against Castlederg