Donegal Ladies face Armagh for place in Ulster final

Donegal Ladies face Armagh for place in Ulster final
Peter Campbell sport@donegaldemocrat.com @dgldemocrat

Donegal Ladies enter the championship arena this Saturday evening when they face Armagh in the TG4
Ulster semi-final (7 p.m.)

The game has been fixed for Greencastle in Tyrone.

The game was originally fixed for Carrickmore but because of a clash with a Carrickmore club fixture, a new venue had to be found.

Donegal manager, Micheál Naughton, is also the President of the Ulster Ladies GAA, and he was directly involved in finding the replacement venue.

Donegal go into the game on the back of a brilliant run in the Lidl Ladies National Football League that saw them go all the way to the Division One League final.

In the final they suffered a heartbreaking one point defeat to the all conquering Cork.

“We had a great run in the league alright and were unlucky not to beat Cork,” said Naughton.

“We were one of the form teams in the league. But the problem with that it means everybody wants to beat you.

“We are up there to be knocked down and Armagh will be ready for us on Saturday evening.”

The teams have met once already this season with Donegal claiming the points in their opening game of the League in Convoy.

Donegal won that game 4-10 to 0-11, thanks to goals from Paula McGrory (2), Roisin Friel and Amber Barrett.

All-Star Aimee Mackin kicked six of the Armagh points.

Armagh are managed by former Donegal coach, Sean O’Kane from Tyrone. O’Kane was the coach under previous Donegal manager, Davy McLaughlin.

Armagh only won two games in the league and were relegated.

“They are still a good side and they will be up for the championship and they would like nothing better than get a win over us,” insisted the Donegal boss.

All-Stars Caroline O’Hanlon in midfield and Aimee Mackin at corner forward are their big players.

Donegal have a number of injures and Micheál Naughton is planning this week without Kate Keaney, Shannon McGroddy, Laura Gallagher and Niamh Mailey.

Kate Keaney is out for the season after suffering a cruciate injury in the opening minutes of the league final.

Shannon McGroddy collided with a goalpost at training last weekend and needed stitches to a gash in the back of her head.

Laura Gallagher and Niamh Mailey, both in the running for the goalkeeping position, have been sidelined with hamstring injuries.

Regular ‘keeper Aoife McColgan is sitting the Leaving Certificate.

Donegal will also be without star forward Amber Barrett at the weekend. The Milford player is away on International soccer duty.

“The injuries have made it more difficult for us; Shannon McGroddy was playing well. But training has gone well in the last couple of weeks and there is a buzz back again after losing to Cork.

“Armagh will be a tough challenge but if we can get back up to our league final form we are in with a great chance. But it is going to take a big effort from the whole team.”

Despite the injuries, Donegal still have a wealth experience and quality right through the team.

Emer Gallagher is expected to once again be in the number three shirt; Ciara Hegarty at centre half-back.

Karen Guthrie and Katy Herron are a formidable midfield partnership while Niamh Hegarty, Yvonne McMonagle and Geraldine McLaughlin carry a huge scoring threat up front.

And if they get a decent supply they are more than capable of chalking up a match winning score.

Cavan and Monaghan meet in the other semi-final the following Saturday.