Naomh Fionnbarra who will be aiming to go one step further than last year when they take on Kilkerley in the Intermediate Championship semi-final on Sunday.
The Finbarrs, who lost out to St Patrick’s in the 2019 decider, prevailed when the sides met at the quarter final stage last year but when they met recently in a Div 2 league play-off it took extra time before the Togher side came out on top by 7-11 to 4-15. The teams had finished level 4-7 each after sixty minutes.
On that occasion experience was a key factor as former county players Marianne Hullen (2-2) Marie Doyle (2-3) and Leanne Sharkey (2-3) led the scoring charge for Alan McMahon’s side. The sides also met in the league proper with Finbarrs also winning.
Games between these are normally close and Marie Doyle feels her side will have to be at their best to win; “The teams are evenly matched and we are expecting a very close game. Kilkerley are a young side with some excellent players as they showed against us recently.” The Galway native a two time All-Ireland medal winner with the Connnaught county says the squad are keen to atone for last year’s disappointment and adds training is well attended and well conducted by former Louth keeper Stuart Reynolds.
“We beat Dreadnots last weekend to book a league semi-final so we have two semi-finals to look forward to” added Doyle.
Kilkerley are probably the youngest team in either of the adult championship as the team is back boned by many of the 2017 Under 14 Championship winning team and also the following year’s U16 league winning team.
The management team of Charlie Geoghegan, Geraldine Kneel, Vincent Litchfield and Aine Hoey have shown faith in these youngsters and have been rewarded with some fine performances.
Ciera Lennon, Ella McEnteggart, Sinead Kneel, Kerri Litchfield and Ciera Sharkey are all still eligible to play U16 and are all expected to play a part on Sunday alongside other emerging stars Cara and Caoimhian Brady, Leah Hoey while Annemarie Kane, Claire Lennon, Blathnaid Callan provide invaluable experience.
These sides have form in this competion, Kilkerley beating Fechins in the 2017 final and Finbars beaten finalists two years later. The game gets underway at 11am in Stabannon
Clan na Gael v Glyde Rangers
In the other Intermediate Semi-Final, firm favourites Clan Na Gael take on Glyde Rangers in the Ramparts. Clans having topped their Group, will be strongly fancied to advance following big wins over St. Marys and Kilkerley before surprisingly losing to Gleann Mhairtin in their final round robin fixture.
The Dundalk club who play in League Div 2, have been strengthened considerably this season by the addition of ex Dublin star Denise McKenna which has added to the considerable attacking options of Andrew Griffin’s side, which already has exciting youngsters Ciera Woods, Cara McKeever and Deirbheile Tinnelly to call on.
Despite this Clans midfielder Shannon McLaughlin is expecting a close contest; “It’s do or die for both teams and Glyde are coming into this game after some very good results and we are expecting a really tough game. We lost in our last outing to a very good Martins/Glen Emmets team, we did have a few injuries on that occasion and hopefully they will have cleared up by Sunday concluded the Clan’s mid-fielder”
Eleven years after only appearance in a county Intermediate final in which she scored 4-1 for St.Mary’s, Glyde Rangers star Michelle McMahon feels the win in their first game against the O’Raghallaighs/Plunketts was crucial.
“It was great to get off to a good start, particularly when we struggled so much in the league. The opening win was exactly what we needed to be competitive in the group.
Unfortunately we fell short to a strong Fionnbars side in the next round. Looking back we were disappointed in our performance; we felt we made simple mistakes that ultimately cost us. There were still plenty of positives to take from the game and things that we did well. We got a crucial win against the Dreadnots in the last game to get out of the group which was probably our best performance.
Both of us needed a win to progress to the semi so it was a really competitive game with both teams giving it their absolute all. It was end to end football which went down to the wire.
We started off really well and got a few goals early on which gave us a lead to push on from. The Dreadnots came back strong though and were winning with about 10 minutes to go. We worked hard to take the lead again and keep it.
It was fantastic to get a win in such a tight match. Everyone performed really well and it ultimately meant we’d progress to the semis. It meant a lot to the players and management of Aidan McGarrell, Daniel Woods, Briege McDonnell, Laura Murphy as it’s been quite a few years since we’ve made an appearance in the semis.
The young girls coming through have been superb this year – Amy Farrell, Sarah Gilmore, Emily Scriven, Ciara McCullagh, Ciara Owens to name a few. They’re a really talented group of players who have all stood up and pushed us on. They work really well together – very strong defensively, great linking through the midfield, and brilliant scoring ability.
Yes, we’re quite a young team with a few older heads like myself adding the “experience” as you so kindly put it! Players such as Alanna Conlon, Sinead Kirk, Aisling Scriven, Annabel Kearney have all been around a bit longer and definitely bring that extra bit of match day experience and ability to control situations and slow things down when needed. It’s a good mix in the camp though and everyone gets on really well.
Everyone is really excited. There’s a great buzz and we’re all in flying form. We were absolutely delighted to get out of the Group, particularly after such a tight game against the Dreadnots. Since then everyone has really been enjoying coming to training and working hard. Still being in contention at this stage in the year is fantastic.
Currently there’s no injury’s thankfully. Megan Haughey has returned to training after a bad injury she picked up during the league. It’s really good to have her back adding that competitive edge to things”. added the Louth star
How much does the mid-Louth side know of opponents Clans?
“Honestly we wouldn’t know that much. Think we may have played against them a year or two ago. The management wouldn’t be overly familiar with the ladies teams in Louth so we tend to focus on ourselves mostly and concentrate on playing our own game well.”
The game has a 1pm start in Park Na Gael, Dundalk