The Aodh Ruadh team heading to Féile this weekend. Full caption at the end of main article.
Aodh Ruadh under 14 girls head to Cavan this Friday to take part in one of the biggest underage sporting events in Ireland, the GAA's Féile competition. Clubs from all over the country as well as a number from Britain and America will descend on Cavan, Monaghan and Fermanagh to compete for All-Ireland titles at various grades over the course of the weekend.
The Ballyshannon side booked their place at the annual celebration of youth football by claiming the under 13 county title last November in Ardara following a rollercoaster county final against Downings.
Downings reached the final thanks to an un-broken sequence of double digit victories in the group and knock-out stages. Aodh Ruadh won through well from the group stages, but had to go to a replay to get the better of Termon in the quarter-finals and had a tough semi-final against a strong Killybegs side.
In the final, played on a wintry evening under lights, Downings held the edge at half-time, leading by 1-3 to 0-5. However a great team display and goals from Emer O'Brien and Sarah Jane Keon helped Aodh Ruadh to a 2-8 to 2-5 victory at the final whistle.
Since then the team reached the county under 14 final where they once again faced Downings, that decider being played in MacCumhaill Park last Saturday. This time the honours went the way of the Rosguill girls, but this looks like a friendly rivalry which has a few years left in it yet.
This weekend though the focus turns firmly on Féile. On Friday afternoon Aodh Ruadh will depart for Aghadrumsee in Fermanagh where they will play their first game of the competition against Wexford champions, Clonee. They will then take on Aghadrumsee before heading on their host club, Drumlane in Cavan, for the evening. If previous Féíle experience is anything to go by this will be the beginning of a long and warm friendship between the clubs.
Aodh Ruadh play Drumlane on Saturday morning before lunch and then hit the road for their quarter-final match. The goal will be to still be battling for All-Ireland honours on Sunday when the semi-finals and finals take place.
"It's a great honour and privilege for us to go forward and represent Donegal at this stage," said Aodh Ruadh manager Barry Ward. "The girls have put in a lot of hard work to get us this far and they have had great support from their parents, their families and the club. Everyone involved has put their shoulder to the wheel fund-raising for the weekend with discos and the Boston Tea Party and we've also been generously supported by sponsorship from Olympic Amusements in Bundoran, Herron Auto in Donegal Town and Mac Plant Sales.
"The spirit has been great to see and hopefully we can finish the season on a high by bringing an All-Ireland back to the town on Sunday."
Full Panel caption: The Aodh Ruadh team heading to Féile this weekend, back row l-r, Caoimhe Hughes-O'Brien, Eilish Gallagher, Caoimhe McCauley, Aine Hill, Ella Clancy, Ciara Gillespie, Clodagh O'Connor, Hannah Gallagher, middle row, Laoise Kelly, Ciara Caldwell, Lauren McHugh, Sarah Jane Keon, Orla Keon, Lucy McGlynn, Dearbhla Hughes-O'Brien, Danielle Gallagher. Front Katie McMullin, Emer O'Brien, Katie O'Brien, Caitlin McGarrigle, Tia McFarland, Grainne Maguire, Aoibhínn McGarrigle, Niamh Hughes.