Interview with Sligo Manager Kathleen Kane

talented charges have one more promise left
to keep By Liam í Maoldhomhnaígh

on above image to go to web site

like politicians, make promises. They live and
die by them, too. Sligo Lades Gaelic football
manager Kathleen Kane has made predictions this
year. But, thus far, she has made good those promises.
Earlier this year the former county player, who
still plays club football for St Nathy’s, declared
her utmost faith in a squad that she, along with
selectors Shane Quigley, Patricia McDonagh and
Annette Kearns, has moulded since last November.
“It is my firm belief that this Sligo squad will
be in Croke Park on [Sunday] October 3,” stated
Kane; in the aftermath of Sligo’s comfortable
retention of their Connacht Junior title, the
manager re-iterated her statement of intent. “When
I set out my stall at the start of the year, I
said that I wanted to bring the girls to Croke
Park. This [beating Leitrim] is the third rung
on the ladder and we can still only take each
game as it comes. But I know that the girls can
build on this success.” Kane, unflinchingly, stands
over these pronouncements. The undeniable proof,
of course, is where her squad stand’s one victory
away from being crowned All-Ireland Junior champions.


Sunday, Sligo face Leinster kingpins Kildare
in the final of the TG4-sponsored Cumann Peil
Gael na mBan All-Ireland Junior Championship.
The game, which starts at 1.15pm, a curtain-raiser
to the Senior decider, takes place at GAA
headquarters in Dublin. Sligo will play in
Croke Park. Just like Kane said they would.
The manager, a selector last year when the
then manager, Tom Keane, guided Sligo as far
as an All-Ireland semi-final, doesn’t regret
her stance. Her well-documented aspirations,
if they hadn’t come to pass, would have been
mocked by some as mere managerial hype. “The
results have proved that I was right to say
what I wanted the players to achieve,” said
Kane. “The players feel confident at the moment
and everyone is focused on next Sunday.” Sligo’s
path to the final comprised of four unblemished
victories, including that landslide All-Ireland
semi-final obliteration of Cork. That this
Sligo team has been largely untested doesn’t
worry Kane. “The teams that we play weren’t
bad, it is just that we didn’t allow them
to play,” the manager, also a well-respected
referee, said.
Forward Stephanie O’ Reilly recieves the
player of the Match Award from Geraldine

of the most difficult challenges that Kane and
her backroom team regularly faces is that of team
selection. Who is left out? From the panel of
30, superbly prepared by fitness coach Ashley
Henry, a Ballymote-based athlete, everyone wants
to start. “Throughout the [Ladies National Football
League] we experimented with various line-ups.
It has taken us until now to decide our strongest
team, but we have 30 elite players at our disposal
there are some marvellous options among the substitutes.”
Even if Kane was honing her ideal team throughout
the Suzuki Ladies National Football League, the
players chosen were still gleaning results last
April, they were denied a place in the Division
Two semi-final by Donegal.

The expected return of sterling team captain Jackie
Mulligan who is on a [women’s] soccer scholarship
at the University of West Georgia in Carrollton,
Atlanta, leaves Kane with a full squad and one
that isn’t hampered by injury. Among the array
of talented players, several stand out. For example
goalkeeper Katrina Connolly, defenders Ruth Goodwin,
Michelle McGowan and Jackie Mulligan, midfielders
Angela Doohan and Bernice Byrne, as well as lethal
forwards Louise Brett and Stephanie O’Reilly.

The experience of Doohan and McGowan is vital.
They were part of the Sligo team that won Connacht
Junior honours in 1995; their team-mates at the
time included none other than Kathleen Kane, Patricia
McDonagh and Sarah Casserly, now the team’s physiotherapist.

Of the new generation 10 of the starting 15 in
the Connacht final were teenagers the most vibrant
are Cloonacool’s Louise Brett and Stephanie O’Reilly,
a Geevagh forward who scored 4-4 in the All-Ireland
semi-final. “A player of Stephanie O’Reilly’s
ability would be a huge asset to any team. She
is well able to take her scores given the right
supply. Louise Brett has also done extremely well
this year. We have to encourage the rest of the
forwards as well, they all have a part to play,”
said Kane, who constantly espouses the well-worn
mantra that players win games but teams win competitions.
“Having Jackie [Mulligan] back will also be a
good boost for the squad,” Kane added.

Ultimately, everything the county’s ambitions
and Kane’s unwavering faith in her players will
hinge on the team’s performance. Kane is relishing
the final hurdle. If the remaining obstacle is
overcome then her prophecy will have been fulfilled.
“This is Kildare’s third [All-Ireland] final so
they won’t want to lose. I watched them defeat
Armagh and I know it won’t be easy for us.” “Where
we [Sligo] are at the moment didn’t just happen
in 2004. It is a culmination of factors, a combination
of talent, how we focused that talent and what
had been achieved by schools and clubs in Sligo
in recent years.”

“I have a huge respect for the players and I have
a huge belief in what they are capable of. The
supporters have stuck with us – not just this
year but in other years. This is our chance to
repay their loyalty,” explained the manager, whose
last game at inter-county level was the Connacht
Junior Championship semi-final four years ago.
“Defeat [against Kildare] is not an option,” she
added emphatically.

article was kindly given to us by The Sligo Weekender




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