FOOTBALL is no trivial matter for a Donaghmoyne side that have been hit by setback after setback off the pitch ahead of Sunday’s All-Ireland semi-final against Mourneabbey.
The reigning All-Ireland champions lost their club chairman Martin Daly last year and the Monaghan club was again beset by tragedy in 2016.
Sisters Cathriona and Sandra McConnell lost their father Vincent earlier in the year while Hazel Kingham’s father Walter also passed away.
In the circumstances, it’d be easy for sporting matters to take a back-seat but their team captain Amanda Casey says football has helped dress the wounds of the past two seasons.
She said: “It has been very tough, it just seems like one thing after another. It’s been very hard on all the girls, football brings everybody together and it’s a positive outlet for the girls that have been through so much. They would also have been there for the girls so it’s hard for them to keep it going, but I think they’re doing them proud.”
The visible tip of the Donaghmoyne iceberg couldn’t be brighter and they clinched their tenth Ulster title with a techy, incident-ridden but deserved 2-12 to 1-6 win over Tyrone champions St Macartan’s.
That win secured their progression to Sunday’s All-Ireland semi-final clash against Cork side Mourneabbey, their vanquished opponents in last year’s decider.
Casey says that there’s a lot of pieces to the Donaghmoyne puzzle but none as significant as the role played by their evergreen manager Francie Coleman, who has been at the helm every year since the club’s foundation in 1991.
His steadfast dedication and influence is almost without parallel in the Ladies’ game, and last year they claimed their fourth All-Ireland title under his watch against their opponents on Sunday, Mourneabbey.
“Francie’s the driving force, he keeps everything together. Only for Francie I’d probably have retired a long time ago, I think he just keeps the whole thing going. We came strong at U16 and the core of the team are still together. I think it’s just everything, the girls, the attitude, the backroom team. If one of those links fall out, you don’t know what would happen, but I think Francie is the main factor in pulling it all together.”
See this week’s Gaelic Life for the full interview with Amanda Casey.