LURGAN’S Sinead McCleary captained Queen’s University’s ladies gaelic team to an historic success last week as they won the prestigious O’Connor Cup for the first time.
The Clann Eireann star, who has been in fantastic form for Armagh this season and top-scored in three of the Orchard outfit’s first four National League games, proved an inspirational leader for Queen’s and picked up a Colleges All Star award along with her winner’s medal.
Queen’s hadn’t even reached the last four of what is the All Ireland for universities and third level colleges since 2009 and went into finals weekend in Waterford as clear outsiders.
But a last gasp equalising goal against holders University College Cork took their semi-final into extra-time and QUB went on to win narrowly before trouncing Dublin City University by a 10-point margin in the decider.
DCU completed a hat-trick of O’Connor Cup triumphs from 2009-11 but couldn’t contain a rampant Queen’s outfit who produced a dazzling display for the live television audience and scored all but a single point of their tally of 4-10 from play.
With Armagh manager James Daly at the helm and McCleary captain of a team featuring half a dozen Orchard county players, this sweet success had a distinctly orange flavour to it.
McCleary was singled out for special praise by boss Daly, who said: “Our captain Sinead was just incredible – she’s a quality player and a real leader and having her experience was a massive boost.”
Armagh will miss McCleary for the next few weeks as she’ll be in Malta on a midwifery placement but Sunday’s away win at previous leaders Leitrim took Daly’s side top of the Division Three table and secured semi-final qualification with two rounds remaining.