All the latest news from around Ulster

All the latest news from Ulster

by Paddy Hunter


Tyrone may have parted company with Jimmy McCloughan but in turn
they welcome a very experienced former player to take over the
reigns as senior team manager. Michaela O’Neill better known on
the football fields since the early 1990s under the guise of her
maiden name Doherty takes over from the popular Fintona man after
one year in charge.The talented footballer one of the best known
coaches and tutors in the ladies game will be joined in her new
role by Kildress man Joe Gilligan who has enjoyed success with
club teams. A native of South Derry Gilligan offers the Tyrone
cause something completely different as they bid to go that one
step further. There was eyebrows raised within Tyrone and wider
a field at the exit of the genial McCloughan though, he had guided
Tyrone through to the last four in Ireland and had already plans
in place for 2008. It appears that some elements within the county
were unhappy and McCloughan opted to move on, it’s expected he
will be involved in men’s football again. Its now though about
the future and the talented forward who helped Tyrone at minor
and senior level down the years comes in to the post to try and
take things that extra step, trials have been organised but it
s expected some players should feel confident about their places
in any new look squad. Gemma Begley is one off those and she helped
An Charraig Mhor to the division one title at the weekend just
hours after adding to her all Star with the Ulster GAA Writers
ladies player of the year award and this Saturday Begley who was
a monthly merit award winner will be hotly tipped for the Tyrone
Teamtalk awards player of the year award too.

In terms of the new look Tyrone squad O’Neill will start with
a clean slate though, she will have played alongside and coached
several of last years panel including a couple of the new kids
on the block from the Ulster minor winning squad of 2007 that
broke unto the scene. O’Neill from the Omagh St Endas club took
a break after managing the county minors in 2006, she’s now a
mother, but during 2007 made her return to the club scene, lining
out at full forward with the likes of veteran former county star
Nicola Canavan nee Scott. Its unlikely “Mic” as she’s known will
play herself in 2008 but she has certainly committed herself to
the senior inter county cause. So change has come to Tyrone but
O’Neiil and Gilligan will not be the only new faces in 2008.

Its all change too in Armagh, the wonderful success of the past
four years will be hard to replicate but that task has been entrusted
to Jim Finnegan. He has a wealth of experience as both a player
and a manager, having played inter county football and for the
past four years has been manager of the Armagh ladies minor team.
This season he led them to Ulster B success. Its expected Finnegan
will confirm another former county player Tommy Stevenson as the
team’s trainer. Like his Tyrone counterpart Jim says it’s a fresh
start. No one is guaranteed a place in the squad and players who
have previously played and have since left will have an opportunity
to impress if they so wish. The goal for Jim and his side is a
simple one, winning the All Ireland. In a recent interview he
claimed he is prepared to sacrifice a league run in order to get
to know his players so that he can give the championship a fair

There will be some stability in Monaghan next year, after their
current manager Owen McNally committed himself to his counties
cause again. A recent county board meeting ratified McNallys continuation
as senior team manager for another term. The Tyholland man was
in charge of Monaghan last season and despite a slow start he
guided the Oriel county to the TG4 quarter finals only to loose
to Mayo. .Mc Nally is wasting no time in preparing for next season
and has announced a series of open trials at Cloghan.


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