Mourne Girls "Down" But Not Out

Ulster Senior Semi-Final 15/7/03

Down senior ladies find themselves in a strange situation
at present, surely feeling a sense of deja-vu. For the second
time in three weeks they find themselves preparing for an
Ulster Championship semi-final, this time against Monaghan.

Having been defeated by Tyrone two weeks ago, Down receive
a reprieve as there are only three teams involved in this
years championship. Should they gain victory over Monaghan,
they would face Tyrone again in the provincial decider,
and be in the peculiar situation of having played in both
semi-finals and a final.

Down will once again enter a game as underdogs, which is
usually the case when facing the reigning Ulster champions.
However, Down will take heart from a much-improved performance
against Tyrone, a fact not lost on Mourne Captain Aoibheann

“Although Tyrone beat us quite comfortably in the end,
we can look on the positive side in that we dominated for
long periods in all areas, especially at the start of the
second half. Unfortunately we were unable to turn this dominance
into scores”states the midfielder.

Downey points to inexperience in comparison to the opposition
as the single greatest factor in the game.” Towards
the end, Tyrone had the more experienced players, seasoned
campaigners, who shone through when it mattered.”

According to Downey, parallels can be drawn between the
Tyrone game and this one; “Once again we find ourselves
going into the game as underdogs, which maybe suits us.
Our girls, especially the younger players, have learnt a
lot from the Tyrone match and hopefully we should be better
prepared for this game. With an extra competitive match
under our belt, we will be much sharper to the ball, which
was our downfall a bit against Tyrone.”

The margin of the Tyrone victory in the semi-final did not
do justice to what was in reality a spirited Down performance,
and Downey feels that the Mourne side can definitely up
their performance. Down relied heavily on the free-kicks
of Michaela Downey and Lisa Morgan, both of whom were extremely
efficient from dead ball situations, and Down will hope
to present them with further scoring opportunities on Sunday.

Monaghan of course have their own problems heading into
the game, with a number of injuries to key players. Downey
is sceptical of how much of an advantage this will be for
Down.”“Although Monaghan are missing a few of
their big names, they have so many players who can fill
the berth. You only have to look at the strength of the
Monaghan B squad which scored six goals against Derry to
see the strength and depth of talent they possess.”

A second opportunity for Down in Ulster, facing the reigning
champions, with the opportunity for revenge against Tyrone
in the Ulster decider as an added incentive to win. The
scene is set for a Down triumph, but this is the Ulster
Championship and the girls from the Mourne county know that
it will take the same sort of passion and drive which saw
them capture the All-Ireland Junior title if they are to
overcome the odds.

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