Ladies lose to stronger side

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CLANN Éireann’s ladies manager Mickey McMahon was making no excuses after his side’s defeat at the hands of a better drilled and stronger Donaghmoyne side in last Sunday’s Ulster Club Semi-Final.

The local side lost out despite leading on a scoreline of 1-2 to 0-2 following a stunning Shauna O’Hagan goal after just five minutes.

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It was the Monaghan outfit, however, who held all the aces on the day to eventually run out 1-14 to 1-04 winners.

“There is no point looking for excuses,” stressed the Clanns manager. “We were beaten by the better team on the day. We knew what to expect and were hoping to push them all the way but they are a fine outfit.

“They will take a lot of beating in the Ulster final.”

Clann Éireann played some fantastic football in the second half of last Sunday’s encounter but with the visitors packing their defence before breaking at speed, the Lurgan girls found it difficult to break though.

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The resolute defence was marshalled by their superb centre full-back Michelle Grimes who had a titanic tussle with Shauna O’Hagan throughout.

If Ballymacnab goalkeeper Sean Hughes’ heroics received rave reviews from last Sunday’s Senior County Final, then the exploits of Clann Éireann’s Catherine McAlinden should also be highlighted. The Derrytrasna girl prevented the floodgates from opening on several occasions and with Donaghmoyne continually threatening, one particular save from the Clanns ‘keeper at the end of the first half was both brave and tactically superb.

Despite suffering defeat it would be wrong to say that the home side played badly. Winning back the Armagh title was the main aim this season. Last Sunday saw some great defending yet the side lacked the swiftness on the break or the penetration up front to seriously trouble their Monaghan rivals.

With the game in the bag, Donaghmoyne closed the door on several Clann Éireann raids, particularly in the last twenty minutes, but it all started so well for the Armagh champions. Sinead McCleary opened the scoring for the home side with just one minute on the clock but one of Donaghmoyne’s outstanding players, Eileen McElroy levelled the game two minutes later.

Clann �ireann ladies' management team of Tony Gallery, Mickey McMahon and Gary Mallon during last Sunday's Ulster Championship game against Monaghan side Donaghmoyne. INLM4211-824con

Clann �ireann ladies' management team of Tony Gallery, Mickey McMahon and Gary Mallon during last Sunday's Ulster Championship game against Monaghan side Donaghmoyne. INLM4211-824con

Aine Hoye put the Clanns back in front with a point and the wing forward, minutes later, put Shauna O’Hagan in the clear to give the visitors ‘keeper no chance from close in. Donaghmoyne’s full-forward McConnell and O’Hagan traded points but the Clanns were pegged on the back foot for the remainder of the game despite battling admirably. Mags McAlinden, during the second half, hit the Lurgan team’s only score of the period as the Monaghan side coasted to victory.

McElroy, Courtney and McConnell, amongst a host of others, will be hard to handle in the Ulster decider when Donaghmoyne play Glenfin of Donegal.

As for Clann Éireann, Catherine McAlinden should be commended for her saves, Roisín McKeever, Laura Brown and, in particular, Laura McAreavey all showed well in the full back line. The most potent line for the Clanns was probably their half forward section where Mags McAlinden, Sinead McCleary and Niamh Henderson got through a huge amount of work. Up front, Shauna O’Hagan would probably have liked to have received more quick deliveries.

It is interesting to note that two Lurgan teams lost in last Sunday’s ladies senior Ulster semi-finals. Clann Éireann from Lurgan lost to Donaghmoyne and Cavan outfit Lurgan lost to Glenfin; an all Lurgan final so near and yet so far.