Errigal Attempt To End Carmen Dominance

Errigal Attempt To End Carmen Dominance

Not for the first time in recent years the Tyrone Senior
Championship will be won by either Carrickmore or Errigal
Ciaran. This time however there will be no Peter Canavan
or Conor Gormley on show as the final will be contested
by their female counterparts.

The Ladies of Errigal Ciaran and An Charraig Mhór will take
to the field on Saturday evening in the battle for the Masterskreen
Cup (Augher, 8pm), with the Carmen girls aiming for an unprecedented
three-in-a-row. Their Tyrone success last year proved the
catalyst to even greater things, as they went on to add
the Ulster Club championship to their trophy haul, in an
extended campaign which ended with defeat to Mayo’s
Carnacron in the All-Ireland Club Final.

Their form thus far, by their own admittance, has been somewhat
shaky, with a first-round replay required to beat a strong
St Macartans side. This was followed by a 3-12 to 0-6 win
over 2001 champions Aodh Ruadh at the semi-final stage,
and this result against their old rivals should have done
the teams confidence the world of good. The team has changed
little since last season, the most notable absentee being
goalkeeper Claire Nugent who has remained in England due
to work commitments. The loss of last years inspirational
captain Connie Fox to a hand injury sustained against St
Macartans was a massive blow to the St Colmcilles side,
and she remains a major doubt. This term the Carmen girls
are led by Maíre Grogan, who adds not only a great physical
presence in the midfield sector but also possesses a wealth
of footballing experience. Alongside Patricia Mc Gurk and
Lynnette Hughes, this is arguably Carrickmore’s strongest
area, and will be crucial if they are to succeed.

The Carmen girls defence was almost watertight last term,
and they have maintained their high level of miserliness
this term. Aideen Loughran was one of the discoveries of
last term and she has cemented her position at corner-back.
Claire Mc Elroy has returned to the full-back berth following
a lengthy lay off, and adds an added confidence and assurance
to the rearguard.

In attack Carrickmore have been forced to adjust since Sara
Mc Elroy’s conversion to goalkeeper. The St Colmcilles
side have a wealth of options at their disposal, and the
fluidity of their forwards as a unit is perhaps their most
impressive quality. Gemma Begley rediscovered her goalscoring
touch against Aodh Ruadh, and this Carrickmore attack will
no doubt be hungry for further goals in the final showpiece.
Former Allstar Eilish Gormley remains the fulcrum of the
attack, ably assisted by past and current Tyrone players
Sinead Mc Aleer, Etoinne O`Kane, Elaine Coyle and Collette
Fox. It was their scoring capabilities which carried the
Carmen girls last year, and they appear to once again be
reaching the sort of form which brings success.

Likewise, Errigal Ciaran have an attack which on its day
is capable of slicing through any defence in the county.
The conversion of Claire Mc Garvey to attack has benefited
both club and county. Her individual tally of 2-8 helped
see off Sperrin Óg at the semi-final stage with what was
arguably the best individual performance of the Championship.
The lightning pace of Selena Oquz from half-forward is sure
to trouble the Carmen rearguard, and it was the speed of
thought of the Errigal forwards which helped them see off
Dromore and Sperrin Óg in previous rounds. A change in management
appears to have been the decisive factor for an Errigal
side which has undoubtedly been Tyrone’s greatest
underachievers at Senior level over the years. They are
now coached by Mark Loughran and Stephen Quinn, both of
whom have enjoyed great success with underage teams. They
have moulded a team with a good blend of youth and experience,
all of whom carry an appetite for success.

This Errigal team now plays with a hunger and a self-belief
so badly missed in previous campaigns, and they rightly
enter the final in buoyant mood. Nuala Mc Garvey captains
the side, and along with sister Siobhan is one of the mainstays
of the team. Both have been extremely impressive throughout
the season, with Siobhan earning the Player Of The Championship
accolade in the Ulster Universities whilst playing for St
Marys. She has carried this form into the club season and
is sure to be one of the stars of the game regardless of
the result. Donna Quinn had been a revelation in goals in
the early part of the season, even earning a place in the
Tyrone panel, until she sustained a nasty wrist injury in
training. Despite her speedy recovery, the county final
may have come just too soon, although Errigal will give
her every chance to prove her fitness.

Both sides enter the game on the back of impressive league
results; Errigal securing victory over St Macartans while
Carrickmore easily disposed of Sperrin Óg in free-scoring
encounter. Both will be equally confident

Ciaran Woods

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