The carrot of a first ever All-Ireland Senior Football Championship semi-final appearance is what faces Donegal Ladies when they take on Armagh on Saturday in Healy Park, Omagh. (Throw-in 4 pm)
This has to be the motivation this week for the Donegal as they prepare to face the Orchard county. How else can they motivate themselves to play a team they hammered by 28 points in the Ulster final at the end of June.
Donegal and Armagh were on different orbits in this year’s Ulster final as Donegal hit 9-28 in a one sided final.
Yvonne Bonner scored four of the goals, Geraldine McLaughlin three, Niamh Hegarty and Eilish Ward one each on a day everything Donegal touched turned to gold.
“It was just one of those days when everything went right for us and everything that could go wrong went wrong for Armagh. They even lost their top forward Aimee Mackin to injury,” Donegal joint manager, Damian Devaney, insisted earlier this week.
“We have to remember, too, they scored 4-8 against us which we would not be happy about. If they score 4-8 against us on Saturday, it might be enough to beat us.”
All-Star Caroline O’Hanlon, Aimee Mackin, Blaithín Mackin and Kelly Mallon scored the Armagh goals.
Donegal and Armagh have both played two games in the All-Ireland qualifiers since with Donegal registering a three point win over Tipperary and they had three points to spare at the end of last weekend’s clash with Kerry in Dr Hyde Park.
Amazingly, for a team that scored 12 goals and 45 points in their two games in the Ulster Championship they have only managed one green flag in their two outings in the All-Ireland Qualifiers.
That goal was in last Saturday’s group game meeting with Kerry.
St Naul’s Eilish Ward, who has failed to convert penalties against both Tipperary and Kerry, scored the goal against the Kingdom.
“It would be a slight worry alright. The goals have dried up but the good thing is we are still creating goal chances. It would be a lot worse if we weren’t creating the chances.
“It is a matter keeping the feet on the ground and focusing on the massive prize on offer, a place in an All-Ireland semi-final.
“The girls are in good form and looking forward to the game and realise the massive carrot of a first All-Ireland semi-final place is the prize for the winners.”
Armagh also have played two games since the Ulster final. They drew 1-11 each with Monaghan, a game by all reports they deserved to win.
And they suffered a 12 point defeat (1-19 to 1-7) at the hands of Munster champions Cork last weekend.
They qualified for the quarter-final by virtue of the fact their margin of defeat against the Rebelettes was less than the defeat suffered by Monaghan at the hands of Cork. Cork defeated Monaghan 7-7 to 1-9.
Captain Karen Guthrie is a slight injury worry after tweaking a hamstring last Saturday against Kerry.
“Karen felt the hamstring tightening after 20 minutes last Saturday and we took her off right away so we are hoping she will be fine for Saturday.
“She is our only concern; everybody else is fit and well. It is a matter now of focusing on Armagh and the prize of a place in an All-Ireland semi-final.”
The winners of Saturday’s game will face Cork or Westmeath in the semi-final.