Donegal Ladies, like the Donegal men, begin their league campaign this Sunday in Laois in Division One of the Ladies National Football League.
Despite a request from Donegal for the game to be played in O’Moore Park before the Donegal versus Laois Allianz League game, the match is being played in Crettyard. Crettyard is on the Laois, Killkenny border and is a little over half an hour away from Portlaoise. (Throw-in 1 pm).
The game is the first of seven games and is one of just two away games. The other teams that will provide the opposition include All-Ireland champions Cork, All-Ireland runners-up Monaghan, Dublin Mayo and Kerry.
Kerry is the last game and the only other away trip, with all the rest at home. Like the Allianz Football League the ladies league is run over a nine week period, with the last game against the Kingdom on April 6th.
Margaret Foy is the Donegal manager and she is in her first year in the job. She was appointed after Christmas and takes over from Hugh Molloy, who stepped down at the end of last season.
St Naul’s player Eilish Ward has been appointed captain for the new season with Orla Carr, Kilcar, the vice captain.
Foy, who is currently working off a panel of 40 players, 38 of whom are at home, has been boosted this season by the return of Four Masters’ Kate Keaney. Keaney was travelling last year and missed both the league and championship campaigns.
“We have been working hard for the last three weeks. Basically, we have been concentrating on fitness levels. The girls have the skill so it is a matter of building up fitness,” said the new boss.
“We have been training three times a week and we have been getting good attendances and the girls have put in a huge effort and we are looking forward to the start of the league.
“We played Laois last year in Bundoran and matched them for most of the game. But we just didn’t put them away when we were on top and they caught us with a couple of late scores and they won by a couple of points.
“We have a fully fit squad and we will be travelling with 30 players to Laois and we are hoping to get off to a winning start. The plan for the league is to take it one game at a time but we are targeting making the knockout stages.”
Skipper Eilish Ward, vice captain Orla Carr, Kate Keaney, Karen Guthrie, Terese McCafferty, Rose Boyle, Roisin Friel, Niamh Mailey, Emer Gallagher, Karen Feeney, Nicole and Geraldine McLaughlin and Kelly Wilson are the experienced players in the squad.
And they will backbone the team for Sunday’s opener against the O’Moore County. The Donegal team will not be named until after training on Friday night.
The Donegal squad is as follows: Eilish Ward (St Naul’s), Aine Hanlon (Dungloe), Katie Herron, Aisling Cunningham (Killybegs), Aisling Gillespie (Gaoth Dobhair), Catherine Boyle, St Eunan’s), Cathy Deward (MaCumhaills), Claire Murray (Milford), Claire Doherty (Buncrana), Emer Gallagher (Termon), Emma McGroary (Castlefin), Geraldine McLaughlin (Termon), Hannah Carr (St Eunan’s), Karen Feeney (Cloch Cheann Fhaola), Karen Guthrie (Glenfin), Kate Keaney (Four Masters), Katie Herron (Glenfin), Kelly Wilson (Convoy), Kinesha McKinney (St Eunan’s), Lauren O’Connell (St Eunan’s), Lucy Murhpy (MacCumhaills), Maria Carr (Termon), Niamh Carr (Milford), Niamh Mailey (Convoy), Nicole McLaughlin (Termon), Orla Carr (Kilcar), Patricia Mannering (Naomh Conaill), Rachel McGee (Gaoth Dobhair), Roisin Friel (Termon), Rose Boyle (St Eunan’s), Terese McCafferty (Termon).