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Ulster Ladies Senior Football Final Preview

Thursday 07.07.2011
Team Talk Mag

The lady footballers of Tyrone will attempt to go the traditional route this Sunday as they try and annex the Ulster ladies senior football championship title at Clones and progress through the front door of the TG4 all Ireland series. With some big names in the qualifiers already, avoiding the scenic route is very much on the agenda for the Red Hand girls, but they face a tough day at the home of Ulster football.

Standing between last year’s beaten all Ireland finalists and their first
Provincial title since 2009 are Monaghan , a team that needs no introduction to Tyrone this year. In two outings Greg Mc Gonigle’s side have come out on top, but those ties, in the Dowd cup and national league will have little bearing on Sunday’s Ulster decider.

Fixtures between the two kingpins of Ulster senior football have always been close and this weekend’s clash at St Tiernach’s Park will be no exception with both teams firing on all cylinders ahead of this eagerly awaited tussle.

McGonigle’s Monaghan beat Down in the semi-final having easily accounted for Armagh in the first round and in turn showed their scoring prowess racking up 9-28 while conceding just 1-9.

Tyrone and Donegal shared twelve goals in a thrilling semi-final at
Brewster Park, some of those goals out of the top drawer and while Tyrone
shipped six goals they outscored their opponents and that, says manager
Martina Dillon is a fact not lost on her charges.

“Yes when you concede six goals it’s worrying but we do have the score getters at the other end. some of the Donegal goals were superb while we had a few “gems” of our own. Gemma Begley’s were well taken and I have every confidence that we can outscore anyone on our day. We certainly have the capabilities and since that semi-final win we have worked on closing players down and being sharper in defence. We can’t afford to allow Monaghan any space and time”

Monaghan have quality all over the park but the threat up front could give
them a slight edge over Dillon’s side who boast an experienced look with
Maura Kelly , Laura McGillion and Eimear Teague all expected to start along
side captain Neamh Woods.

A former Ulster minor winning captain under the tutelage of Dillon, remarkably Woods has only one Ulster senior medal in her collection,that claimed in 2009 when Tyrone had a 3-8 to 0-13 win over Sunday’s opposition. Failing to reach the Provincial final last year was hard to accept for this squad admitted the Drumragh ace and they are keen to make amends now.

“ We didn’t perform in Ulster last year and I think we all feel that we did
not perform against Dublin in the all Ireland final. Some of the girls feel
that we have points to prove. We enjoyed that high scoring semi-final at
Enniskillen and while we must improve against Monaghan I know we can.
There’s more in this team, it’s hard to believe that there’s not that many
Ulster medals in Tyrone and the players are well aware of that fact”

Woods and some of the experienced teammates have been bolstered by some
fresh faces as Dillon and her management team of Rory McCann, Aidan Connolly and Barry Grimes attempt to blood new players into the rigors of senior inter county football. There will be a lot expected of the established stars at Clones on Sunday but admits Dillon that all the players in this new look Tyrone squad are capable of doing a job if the need arises.

“I am, and the three boys are happy with the squad we have. I know that
whoever starts on Sunday will do their best but moreover those who are
called in will also be up to the mark, I have confidence in all the players’ability and that gives us a real sense that we can do the business. We are not just going to make up the numbers”

For the first time since the Aodh Ruadh club woman took over the reins of
the 2010 all Ireland finalists she will have everyone available for
selection. It’s a headache she is delighted to have had over the past ten
days after a raft of players played in county finals in Tyrone,

“ Yes we have no injuries that are worrying us. Sarah Donnelly has recovered from a hamstring problem wile Sarah Connolly has had three good weeks training and Eilish (Gormley) has shrugged off a knee problem and gives us options up front. It’s a great way to be going into and Ulster final, maybe it’s the only way to be going into a game against Monaghan”

Monaghan expect to also be at full strength for the tie and they have
certainly been lucky this year with no major injury worries through an
unbeaten run in the league. The Oriel girls seemed to build from that early
Dowd Cup win.

That first outing of the year saw Tyrone fail to score as McGonigle’s tenure got off to a flyer, the McAnespies on fire as they racked up five goals and over twenty points to no reply. The league tie also produced a big win but as Dillon and Woods both explained Tyrone will be different now,

“We lost those two games but I am sure neither team will take much from
those results. We were far from the finished article. We had failed to get
all our players training in the early stages of the year. We have had
injuries too and I would suggest that Monaghan would have been five to six
weeks ahead of us. That gap I am sure will have closed now, we are up for a
battle and it will be close” enthused the Tyrone boss while captain Woods
also feels Tyrone are coming good at the right time.

“ We have all worked hard, we are well aware that Monaghan looked good early in the year and they were good against Down but perhaps they have peaked too soon, that will be clear one way or the other come Sunday” admitted Woods.

One can sense the steely resolve of Tyrone. There is no getting away from
the facts that, One Tyrone are hungry for another Ulster title and two, they have been well prepared. The influence of the management team and coaches is very evident in everything this real mix of youth and experience have done so far in the build up to the Ulster final.

Barry Grimes and Aiden Connolly have been there and bought the tee shirt
when it comes to ladies football success. The duo has been involved with Ulster and national success over an almost twenty year period. Their approach, and skill at getting the best from players coupled with the winning combination of Dillon and McCann could be described as the “Dream team“, the winning formula. A win in Sunday’s Ulster final could be the stepping stone to another long Summer but a defeat would not be the end of the world. Tyrone proved that by reaching last year’s all Ireland final via the “backdoor”. Try telling that to the players and the management ahead of Sunday, it’s a win or bust for Tyrone against a good, yet very beatable Monaghan at St Tiernach’s Park on July 10th.


Colleen McCullagh, Goalkeeper, 24, St Endas Omagh Teacher

Eimear Teague, Defender, 25, Sperrin Og, Lecturer

Sinead McLaughlin, Defender, 26, DroimRatha Na Sarseil, Secretary

Laura McGillion, Defender, 21, Fr Rocks Cookstown, Student
Maria Donnelly, Defender, 21, St Macartans, Occupational Therapist

Maura Kelly, Defender, 29,St Macartans, Development Officer
Roisin Rafferty, Defender, 21, An Charraig Mhor, Physio
Sarah Donnelly, Midfielder,23, Trillick St Macartans

Neamh Woods,Defender,22, Droim ratha Na Sarseil, Student,
Cathy Donnelly, Forward, 25, St Macartans, Health and Safety Officer

Orla O’Neill, Forward, 25, St Dympnas Dromore, Primary Schools Coach

Aisling O’Kane, Forward, 21, Glenelly, Student

Jolene Donnelly, Forward, 23, St Macartans, Teacher

Gemma Begley, Forward, 26, An Charraig Mhor, Events Manager

Catriona McGahan, Forward, 34, Cill Iseal, GAA Coaching Officer

Shannon Lynch, Goalkeeper, 18, Mna Na Deirge, Student
Emma Conlon, Midfield, 21, Aodh Ruadh, Student

Sarah Connolly, Forward, 21, Errigal Ciaran, Student

Mairead Conwell, Forward, 19, Clann na nGael, Student

Lynda Donnelly, Defender, 27, St Macartans, Teacher

Carol Dooher, Defender,23, Clan Na Gael, Student

Marie Gallagher, Defender, 25, Loughmacrory, Pharmacist

Eilish Gormley, Forward, 32, An Charraig Mhor, Teacher

Emma Hegarty, Forward, 20, Donaghmore, Student

Niamh Hughes, Forward, 20, Aodh Ruadh, Student

Christiane Hunter, Defender, 21, Student

Laura Mc Greesh, 21, Forward, Rock, Student

Carol Mc Glinchey, Defender-Forward, 26, Aodh Ruadh, Classroom Assistant

Claire Scullion, Forward, 21, Cill Iseal Naomh Mhuire, Student

Shannon Quinn, Midfielder, 21, Errigal Ciaran, Student


Manager Martina Dillon

Selectors, Barry Grimes, Rory McCann and Aidan Connolly.

The management team of Tir Eoghain need no introduction, appointed at the
end of last year Martina Dillon brings vast experience to the role of senior football manager.

Having guided the fortunes of Tyrone’s minor footballers for several seasons winning two Ulster titles and just missing out on an all Ireland minor title, the Aodh Ruadh club woman will attempt to nurture those young players coming through with a very experienced squad who reached the county’s first all Ireland senior final.

Dillon is joined by her assistant from the minor squads Rory McCann while a
duo who were successful with Tyrone’s seniors some ten years ago, Barry
Grimes and Aidan Connolly are also playing a pivotal role. Experience on the park and off it could be the perfect blend for Tyrone in 2011

Tyrone Scorers V Donegal Ulster semi-final

Gemma Begley 4-3, Joline Donnelly 0-8, Cathy Donnelly 1-1, Ashling O’Kane
1-0, Catriona McGahan 0-2, Sarah Donnelly, Orla o’Neill and Laura McGreesh
0-1 each

TYRONE TEAM V Donegal Ulster semi-final 6-17 Donegal 6-10

Colen McCullagh, Eimear Teague, Laura McGillion, Sinead McLaughlin. Maria
Donnelly, Maura Kelly, Roisin Rafferty, Sarah Donnelly and Neamh Woods,
Cathy Donnelly, Orla O’Neill, Ashling O’Kane, Joiline Donnelly, Gemma Begley
Catriona McGahan

Subs Laura McGreesh, For S Donnelly, Niamh Hughes For O’Kane, Sarah Donnelly
For McGahan, Emma Conlon For Hughes.



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