Termon’s Ulster Championship reign is over after the provincial and All- Ireland champions crashed out to Monaghan champions, Donaghmoyne, in Saturday’s Ulster final.
There was seven points between the arch rivals at the finish in St Mary’s Park, Killyclogher, the worthy winners and no way flattered by their winning margin. Donaghmoyne dominated for most of the 60 plus minutes. They showed the greater appetite for the prize at stake and from very early they had the look of a team out to avenge last year’s defeat by Termon, at the same stage.
Termon, on the other hand, were off the pace from very early and were second to breaking ball around midfield and from the early minutes Donaghmoyne carved glaring openings in the Termon rearguard.
Emer Gallagher, who started at midfield; Roisin Friel, Shannon McGroddy and Roisin McCafferty were the only Termon players who were on the pace of the game, and looked up for the battle. In fairness to the champions’ marquee forward, Geraldine McLaughlin, in the first half the supply was limited and any ball that did go in her directions was of a poor quality.
And in the second half when the winners closed up shop and packed the defence, she was treble marked and sometimes had four and five markers as Donaghmoyne just swarmed around her any time she won possession.
McLaughlin scored 4-4 of Termon’s 4-8 to 3-7 victory over the Farney Ladies last year. This time around All-Star nominee McLaughlin scored two points - one from a close in free. And while it does not tell the true story of this game, it goes a long way in explaining the ease with which Donaghmoyne wrestled back the title from the Donegal ladies.
She was shadowed by All-Star Sharon Courtney, who dropped back from centre back. And with corner back Niamh Lynch sweeping up in front of her full-back, McLaughlin was restricted to just one point from play.
That was in the sixth minute and Termon’s opening score. Hazel Kingham, who swapped positions with Courtney, kicked the game’s opening score after a minute when the Termon defence alarmingly opened up in front of her.
With Amanda Casey, Joanne Courtney, Cathriona McConnell and Cora Courtney pulling all the strings around the middle of the park, Donaghmoyne had raced into a 0-4 to 0-1 lead by the end of the first quarter.
Shannon McGroddy knocked over Termon’s next point on 18 minutes after good work and quick hands from Roisin Friel, to reduce the gap to two points, 0-4 to 0-2.
But Donaghmoyne, playing into a stiff breeze, added three more points, all from the boot of player of the match, Cathriona McConnell, to two for the Donegal champions (one each from Maureen O’Donnell and Roisin Friel), to lead by five at half-time.
O’Donnell’s strike was a glorious opportunity for a goal after the number 13 had ghosted in behind the Donaghmoyne last line to be found with pin point accuracy by Shannon McGroddy.
But with only ‘keeper Linda Martin to beat, O’Donnell lobbed over the Donaghmoyne crossbar from ten metres. A Termon goal at that stage would have reduced the margin to a single point and might have been the spark to ignite the reigning champions.
Leading 0-6 to 0-3, Donaghmoyne kicked on after that close shave with Cathriona McConnell knocked over two quality points from play and one from a 13 metre free.
Therese McCafferty, just before half-time, was the first of five players in all that were sin-binned; three for Termon, McCafferty, Nicole McLaughlin and Maureen O’Donnell, and two from Donaghmoyne, Hazel Kingham and Eileen McElroy.
Despite being a player down Termon did raise a gallop on the resumption and twice they reduced the margin to four points as Maureen O’Donnell from a free and Roisin Friel, with one of the scores of the game, traded points with the McConnell sisters Sandra and Cathriona.
But the All-Ireland champions were unable to build on that early promise and they did not score again for the best part of a quarter hour when Geraldine McLaughlin converted from a 13 metre free after Roisin McCafferty was hauled down close to the Donaghmoyne penalty area.
Termon did press late on and made a bid for respectability but with Donaghmoyne packing the defence and crowding out Geraldine McLaughlin, the winners only managed three more points in the closing 15 minutes.
Cathriona McConnell capped a super performance scoring all three of the points, one from a close in free and two more from play, to bring her tally for the day to nine and a ninth championship for Donaghmoyne, who were playing in their sixth Ulster final in-a-row, five of them against Termon.
Termon: Laura Gallagher; Petra McCafferty, Emer Gallagher, Nicole McLaughlin; Maria Carr, Therese McCafferty, Meabh McDaid; Shannon McGroddy (0-1), Roisin Friel (0-2); Olive McCafferty, Roisin McCafferty, Lucy O’Flynn; Maureen O’Donnell (0-2, 1f), Geraldine McLaughlin (0-2,1f), Niamh Friel. Subs: Anna Gallagher for P McCafferty (7, inj), P McCafferty for O McCafferty (36), Dara Kelly for P McCafferty (58), Hollie McDaid for M Carr (60).
Donaghmoyne: Linda Martin; Fiona Courtney, Sharon Courtney, Niamh Friel; Joanne Geoghegan, Hazel Kingham (0-1), Joanne Courtney; Eileen McElroy, Amanda Casey; Cathriona McConnell (0-9,3f), Cora Courtney, Fiona Lafferty (0-1); Sandra McConnell (0-1), Niamh Callan (0-1), Rosemary Courtney (0-1).
Frees: Termon - 19 (12 in the first half), Donaghamoyne - 16 (eight in the first half)
Wides: Termon - 1 (only wide was in first half), Donaghamoyne - 13 (five in the first half)
Yelllow: Termon - 3 (Therese McCafferty, Nicole McLaughlin and Maureen O’Donnell)
Donaghamoyne - 2 (Hazel Kingham and Eileen McElroy)
Referee: Kieran McKeever (Armagh).
PLAYER OF THE MATCH
Cathriona McConnell kept her nerve after missing two early frees to kick nine points, six of them from play. She posted five of them in the first half, a couple of them top class strikes into a stiff breeze and from tight angles, to propel her team into a five point half-time lead.