DEIRBHILE Savage and the Ballygalget camogs are hoping to lift the hangover in the club by downing back-to-back Ulster champions Clonduff in Sunday’s Down Senior final (time and venue TBC).
Last weekend, the hurlers saw their championship campaign come to an end as they missed out on a final spot on scoring difference, and Savage is hopeful that they can fill the void.
The side’s last championship title came in 1968, although there is still a bit of debate about whether or not that was a senior crown, and they have only been in one final since – their 2017 loss to the Yellas.
“Someone said about winning it 52 years ago but someone else said that it was an Intermediate title, so there is a bit of confusion there,” said Savage.
“We’ve had great support all the way; I think we have sold out our allocation for every championship game.
“The support from the club has been brilliant. It has been for a few years now but this year you are really noticing it.
“Now that our senior hurlers are out, unfortunately, it puts even more focus on the camogie side now.”
Sunday’s final will be a massive occasion for the Savage household as Deirbhile will play alongside sisters Alannah, Aoife and Blanaid.
“I have three sisters on the team so there are four of us at the minute,” she said.
“My other sister Saerlaith is up next year so we have made a pact to all stay together so there will be five of us next year playing senior.
“It’s great to play with your sisters. It’s all fun on games until you get home and there is a match analysis though!
“All the girls in the club are so friendly. We are all cousins and things like that so there are a lot of girls related to each other throughout the team.
“That would make it extra special if we could win.”
Clonduff have been the queenpins of Down camogie and they are aiming for a fourth title. Portaferry did give them a real scare in the semi-final though (0-17 to 2-9), and Savage is hoping that her side can go one further.
“We’re going in confident. We have played Clonduff over the last three years in the championship and we have learned a lot from those games,” said Savage, who helped her side to a semi-final victory over Liatroim.
“We can’t underestimate their experience. They have been in these big games and they do perform in those games.
“We have a much bigger panel this year and that gives us a lot more options. We have really focussed on our juveniles over the last few years and that has really helped because the girls coming through are brilliant.
“We have 35 girls and the standard of training has been brilliant. We’ve had a few guests in training us and a few senior hurlers and that has been of massive benefit too.”
By Niall McCoy
ANYONE who keeps an eye on ladies football in Armagh should be well aware of the ‘Womance’ that exits between Sharon Reel, Caroline O’Hanlon and Marian McGuinness.
Having played together for years for the Orchard county, the trio got to celebrate club success together in 2018 as Carrickcruppen claimed the county title in Reel’s first season following her transfer from Killeavy.
The Camlough side are back in the decider now with Armagh Harps providing the opposition on Saturday evening at the Athletic Grounds (6.30pm).
McGuinness, however, will not be present having transferred to Cavan outfit Lacken before this season. Last week she helped her new side to the Breffni title with a five-point win over Crosserlough.
Now Reel and O’Hanlon are hoping that they can follow suit and, who knows, maybe if things go perfectly for all three they could meet in an Ulster Club final in a few weeks’ time.
“Marian’s team are into Ulster and if we break out of Armagh then we could meet down the line, and that would be fun,” Reel said with a laugh.
“There has been a bit of slagging about it, thinking of the options, but one week you could be imagining all of that happening and then the next week you could be out altogether after losing to the Harps.”
Cruppen are aiming for their fifth Senior title since their inaugural success in 2010. Of all of them, this would prove the sweetest as question marks swirled about their ability to remain at the top table.
A quarter-final meeting with Dromahill (Dromintee and Forkhill) looked like it could be a possible changing of the guard, but O’Hanlon took out in front of goal and they won 10-10 to 1-6. A narrow semi-final win over Grange (1-16 to 0-15) was a reminder that nothing is guaranteed though.
“I know for a fact that not too many thought that Cruppen would get past the first round,” said Reel.
“We were so poor last year, we let ourselves down against Clann Eireann and we knew ourselves that we didn’t really come out of the dressing room.
“Obviously people thought that was the demise and then losing Marian this year to Lacken. Caoimhe Murray was out too.
“Little did they know that we had so many promising players coming through and we got a few experienced players back. Rhia McCullough is back and so is her sister Dearbhla.
“Then there are younger players like Catriona (O’Hagan) coming through, Ciara Garvey has been very impressive. Maeve Watters did a great marking job on Aoife McCoy in that first match and Aoife is one of the best footballers in the county. Maeve didn’t leave her side.
“We were fairly woken up when it came to Grange though. There were five or 10 minutes of panic but we managed to hang onto the ball and keep it when other teams may have crumbled.”
Harps are trying to make up for last year’s final loss to Clann Eireann when they were defeated 2-12 to 1-8. Their cause has been helped by the addition of Galway player and two-time Allstar Sinead Burke.
“I’ve played against her and she is a top player,” Reel added.
“They will be out to make up for last year’s loss.
“They are a very good side. Both teams are good on paper. They’ve been there and been there and been there and they will get there, I’m just hoping it’s not this year.”
By Niall McCoy