GAA quarter-final: Donegal Ladies chasing a first ever semi-final place

GAA quarter-final: Donegal Ladies chasing a first ever semi-final place
Tom Comack sport@donegaldemocrat.com @dgldemocrat

Donegal are hoping to break new ground when they face Mayo on Saturday in the TG4 All-Ireland quarter-final in Cusack Park, Mullingar. (Throw-in 2.15 pm)

Donegal, the Ulster champions, have lost the last two quarter finals. They went down to Armagh, by two points in 2015 after winning their first Ulster title.

And they went down by three to Dublin last season, also in a last eight clash.

Donegal are back again as Ulster champions following an impressive 4-11 to 0-15 win over Monaghan in Clones at the beginning of July. Geraldine McLaughlin, the team captain, hit two of the goals; Yvonne McMonagle and Roisin Friel got the others. McLaughlin also kicked six six points, Karen Guthrie posted two points and while McMonagle, Grainne Houston and Niamh Hegarty also got their names on the scoresheet.

It will be seven weeks since Donegal ended Monaghan’s reign in Ulster when they take the field on Saturday.

“It’s not very satisfactory and it has been difficult when a team has built up momentum and then you have a sudden break,” said Donegal boss, Micheál Naughton.

Mayo suffered a heavy ten point defeat to Galway in the Connacht final on the same weekend as Donegal toppled Monaghan.

However, the Connacht runners-up have the benefit of a competitive game having been forced down the qualifier route.

Mayo put in a big performance to inflict a 21 point victory over Kildare a couple of weekends ago.

“That is the thing about the long break, you don’t know whether you are up to the pitch of the game and the intensity of the contest.

“And the reality is we won’t know the answer to that until the game is up and running for a few minutes.

“We have trained well and prepared well and the players played a number of games with their clubs.

“The mood was good at training over the weekend. We trained on Friday night and again on Sunday morning and the mood was good and positive.

“The girls are expecting to win. The are an ambitious bunch and they don’t want the quarter-final to be their last game, as has been the case over the last couple of seasons.

“They want to go further than just a quarter-final.”

KNOCKS

Team captain Geraldine McLaughlin, her sister Nicole, Roisin Friel and Shannon McGroddy are all nursing knocks this week.

“They are only minor and I expect all the girls will be fine come Saturday.”

Donegal trained last night (Wednesday) and will train again tonight (Thursday) before travelling down to Mullingar on Friday afternoon and staying overnight on Friday in Mullingar.

Mayo are not the force they once were but in 34-year-old Cora Staunton they have one of the greatest lady footballers of all time.

She will once again lead the attack from centre half-forward and despite her veteran status is a handful for any defender.

“Fiona McCabe, in the half-forward line, and Sarah Rowe at full-forward are also class forwards. But Mayo overall they are a quality side. When you get to quarter-final all teams have quality.

“We played very well in the Ulster final and we are confident if we can get our game up to that level again we will have a great chance.

“But it is going to take a performance of the level we produced against Monaghan to see us through. Anything less simply won’t be good enough.”

The Donegal team is expected to be announced on Friday morning.

And if all those on the treatment table prove their fitness the starting team is expected to be along the same lines as that which started against Monaghan in the Ulster final.