Local girls bidding for Croke Park glory

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SONY DSC

ALTHOUGH local representation on the Armagh men’s team may not be as strong as it had been in the past, there is certainly no shortage of local talent currently involved with the Armagh ladies team who face Waterford in the final of the Mary Quinn Cup at Croke Park on Sunday.

With St Peter’s man Aiden Lennon one of the team’s managers, and seven of the expected starting line up coming from the Clann Éireann and St Peter’s clubs respectively, Lurgan’s interest in events in Croke Park will be sky high. Derrytrasna girl Mags McAlinden, who is the daughter of former Armagh goalkeeper and manager Brian McAlinden, will captain the Armagh ladies side on Sunday, a privilege she says she is ‘very proud to undertake’.

Here are the views of the Armagh captain, her team colleagues Ciara Lennon and Sinead McCleary and Aiden Lennon who will be on the sideline encouraging his side hopefully to an All-Ireland title.

Mags McAlinden (team Captain)

“Captaining Armagh on All Ireland Final Day in Croke Park is a great honour for me. We have a great bunch of talented girls and believe that we can bring All Ireland success back to Armagh. With a lot of the young talent coming into the team this year has given a brilliant bond and the mix of experience and youth is the find behind this team.

“We have worked so hard all year and reaching the semi-final of the National League drove us on to become Ulster Champions and now we are competing for the Mary Quinn Cup.

“Our opposition Waterford are a strong team and have very good players and although beating them in the group stages we are taking nothing for granted. On All-Ireland final day it boils down to whoever wants it the most will take it and we are trying to focus on the football and not the occasion.

“However as a team we are now enjoying the buzz and the build up to the match and encourage all supporters to make the trip to Croke Park where hopefully all the Armagh Ladies dreams will come true.”

Aiden Lennon (Team Manager)

“There is a great buzz about the squad and the girls are eager to get onto Croke park. From march we have been playing a game every other week but we have now had five weeks to prepare since our semi-final win over Longford.

“The girls have been training hard all year putting in three sessions with the county and over the past few weeks we have had Brian McAlinden, Paul McGrane, Aidan and Martin O’Rourke taking training sessions and sharing their experiences of playing on the big occasions in Croke Park. We have a great mix of experience and youth on the panel, there are a few girls that won a Junior All-Ireland in 2005 and played in the senior final in 2006 plus we have nine girls that won a Minor All-Ireland last year and over the last few months they have bonded into a very close team.

“We now just hope we get a good crowd coming to support us .”

Sinead McCleary

“As a county we are delighted to be back competing in Croke Park on All-Ireland final day. It’s a huge honour for ourselves, our families and our Club Clann-Eireann, with six representatives on the panel this year.

“Having played Waterford twice this season we are fully aware of the threat that they pose. They are an extremely organized and athletic side, with six very accurate forwards. However, our preparations over the past four weeks have been excellent, We have trained hard on the pitch and have done our homework so we take confidence from that going into the final. We are extremely grateful for the support given to us so far throughout the county and we hope that will continue and that fans will make the journey to Dublin. Hopefully we can bring the Mary Quinn cup back to Armagh this year.”

Ciara Lennon

“All the girls are excited about the final and it’s great to get to an All-Ireland final. Its every footballers dream to represent their county in Croke Park on All-Ireland final day. The buzz at training is great and the support we are getting as well. We all are hard work and dedication this year pays off and we bring home the cup.