By Katrina Brennan
AS Kinawley ladies prepare for an All-Ireland Intermediate semi-final this Sunday away to St Sylvester’s (1pm), the significance of it is not lost on their captain Joanne Doonan. She’s been there with the Boru’s, knocking on the door of Ulster for quite some time and finally, on November 13 they burst through the door, beating Derry champions Steelstown in a close fought final.
It’s unknown territory now for the Boru’s and 27-year-old Doonan is ready for the challenge that Dublin outfit will present after the Leinster ladies cruised through their quarter-final meeting with London side Holloway Gaels a fortnight ago, beating them 2-12 to 0-5 to set up a semi-final meeting with Kinawley.
“Watching them, Holloway have such a mixture of girls from all over, so it’s hard to judge the standard of team they are,” said Doonan. “They (Holloway) still had a lot of possession against them, we’re not going down here to make superstars of the Dublin county players.”
Dublin captain Sinead Aherne and Nicole Owens bagged 2-7 of their 2-12 total against Holloway so they will take some watching on Sunday. The absence of Erin Murphy in defence is a big blow to Kinawley but her sister Courteney Murphy and Katie Donnelly will be likely handed the job of marshalling these two key players.
St Sylvester’s also have Dublin county stars Kate Sullivan and Niamh McEvoy in their armoury but Doonan is not fazed by this.
“We’re going down thinking we have every opportunity to win, we can’t wait until half time and come in and be like, we actually can win this. It’s still a level playing field, yes, they have four or five Dublin county players but there’s 15 girls on the field the whole time, there’s five subs to be used, so it’s a matter of can our girls up it everywhere else on the field too?
“I’ve full confidence in the girls, I’ve full belief that we can beat them. It’s championship football, anything can happen, so I’m really looking forward to the challenge.”
Kinawley just about got over the line in the Ulster final against Steelstown, with one point to spare, and the former Aussie Rules player knows a similar performance will not be enough come Sunday.
“St Sylvester’s are experienced enough to know that if a team gets a purple patch they’re not just going to give in. Every game gets harder and harder the further you get. I definitely think we’ve a lot to improve on from the Steelstown game. I still don’t think we’ve had that performance where we just click.
“Even speaking for myself, I had three goal opportunities in the first half (against Steelstown), if we get them opportunities against St Sylvester’s, they’re the opportunities you need to take. I think they are the type of team that will punish those things.
“We know the potential in the group and it will take a massive performance and it will take us all to have that good game, especially at this stage. The reality of it is, it’s an All-Ireland semi-final and you have to go out and play your heart out, that’s just what we have to do.”
Doonan, who is covering a maternity leave position with Fermanagh GAA as Games Development Officer doesn’t want their journey to end this weekend.
“We realise that once you get into this situation you have to treat it like this is the last time you’re going to get here and I think we’ve been encouraging the younger girls, that this potentially could be the last time this club is ever in an All-Ireland semi-final, we obviously don’t want that to be the case but you have to treat it like that.”