History beckons for Donegal Ladies on Sunday in Ulster final

History beckons for Donegal Ladies on Sunday in Ulster final

Donegal are chasing a place in history in Brewster Park on Sunday when they face Armagh in the TG4 Ulster Senior final. (throw-in 3.45 pm)

Donegal, the reigning champions, have back to -to-back Ulster titles very much as the target on Sunday.

They defeated Monaghan in last year’s final 4-11 to 0-15 to win Ulster for only a second time. They also defeated Monaghan to claim their first two years earlier in 2015.

The team is managed jointly by Damian Devaney and Maxi Curran, Sean MacCumhaill’s clubman Devaney was coach/ trainer to manager Micheal Naughton last season.

Donegal booked their place in the final with a 14 point win over Monaghan in the semi-final last Saturday night in Omagh.

Geraldine McLaughlin, Yvonne Bonner and Ailish Ward scored the goals in the 3-17 to 1-9 victory over the Farney ladies.

“We are very happy with the way we played. We played against the breeze in the first half and we had the lead at half-time,” said Damian Devaney.

“All the goals were scored in the first half and they were all good goals but Geraldine McLaughlin’s strike was simply brilliant.

“She is a class forward and playing very well. She is injury free and is as fit as I ever saw her and is playing brilliant football, as good as I have ever seen her play.”

Armagh play in the second division of the Lidl League. They finished the season in fourth place and were pipped by Tipperary by a point in the league semi-final.

All-Star corner-forward Aimee Macken - a player that broke Donegal hearts a couple of years ago in a league semi-final in Parnell Park - was the top scorer with 1-4.

“The just missed out on a crack at a Division Two League title by Tipperary.”

In the championship they defeated Cavan, the Division Two League champions, by three points, 2-14 to 1-14.

““Armagh will be tough,” insisted Devaney.

“They have a number of class players. Aimee Macken at corner-forward and Caroline O’Hanlon at midfield are former All-Stars but they are also a good overall team.

Donegal and Armagh last played each other in last year’s semi-final in Greencastle, Tyrone. And in a amazing game Donegal did not score in the first half and came from 11 points down at half-time to win by four, 1-14 to 1-10,.

Geraldine McLaughlin kicked 1-8 of Donegal’s total in that game as Donegal pulled off one of the great recoveries of all time..

Ciara Grant is set to miss the game with a broken bone in her hand and she is Donegal’s only injury concern.

“We have a number of niggles and bruises from Saturday night, none of them are of any great concern. Ciara is the only real concern and while she is progressing well the game may come a little too soon for her.”

Donegal will be boosted by the return of their team captain, the vastly influential midfielder Karen Guthrie. Karen missed the semi-final last weekend due to a family wedding in Cork.

“We are playing well. We had a good finish to the league and the girls played very well last weekend against Monaghan, who were going for a tenth straight final appearance.

“Armagh have a lot of quality right through their team and will provide us with a stiff challenge. But if we can repeat last Saturday night’s performance we will win.”

Donegal team and scorers against Monaghan: R McCafferty; O McCafferty, N McLaughlin, T Doherty; T McCafferty, C Hegarty, D Foley (0-1); K Herron (0-2), Y Bonner (1-2); SJ McDonald (0-2), N Hegarty, A McDonnell (0-3); B Gallagher, E Ward (1-1, 1-0 pen), G McLaughlin (1-5, 5f). Subs: A M McGlynn for O McCafferty 39; R Friel (0-1) for B Gallagher; 44; Blathnaid McLaughlin for N Hegarty 52; K Keaney for D Foley 60.

Armagh team and scorers against Cavan; C O'Hare; S Marley, C Morgan (capt), S Reel; M Tennyson, T Grimes (0-2), M McGuinness; C McCambridge, C O'Hanlon (0-4,2f); M Moriarty, F McKenna, L McConville (0-2), A Mackin (1-4), A McCoy, K Mallon (1-2,1f). Subs: B Mackin for McKenna (39), S Grey for McGuinness (53).