MONEYGLASS Ladies manager Odhran McNeilly says the club’s recent senior championship victory over St Paul’s represents an important moment for the club, and for Antrim ladies football.
St Paul’s were trying to win their tenth title in a row, Moneyglass were after their first. Moneyglass won by 7-11 to 1-6.
McNeilly said: “It was huge for the club. We didn’t put a lot of focus on the result before the game but you only had to see after the game how much the result meant to the players.
“They had been knocking on the door for a long time. There were so many emotions after they got over the line.”
St Paul’s had dominated Antrim ladies senior club football for the past decade. This publication had predicted that St Paul’s would win, yet there were some within ladies football who had predicted a close game in the final. That is what came to pass.
“I had preached before the game to concentrate on ourselves on what we do, and what we bring to the table. I think there was a bit less focus on our competition.
“Maybe the fact that it was a one-off game, and there was no momentum for either side was a factor. There were no quarter-finals or semi-finals.
“Our preparations were good for it. We had four weeks to prepare after Antrim ladies were beat by Wicklow. We had put a good plan together and worked for four weeks and we hit it well.”
Beating a team with a legacy like St Paul’s was a commendable achievement. The Moneyglass players will receive a lot of praise. McNeilly says that he wants to keep his team focused.
“During the couple of days after the game you have to let the players enjoy themselves. You have to let them have that.
“We had a bit of a training session a few days after the game and we had a chat and we reset and refocused. We have Armagh Harps in two weeks time.
“As much as the St Paul’s victory was a great occasion we are very ambitious. The players are ambitious. They see what is ahead.”
McNeilly said that at training the intensity has been very good and he thinks they are focused on the job at hand and taking on the Ulster Club competition.
He also believes that the potential of the team is huge particularly because the players are young enough to compete for many years to come, if they stick together.
“They are a very young side. Aoife Kelly who played corner back is 15, Sarah O’Neill who played in front of her is 16. It is a very young side. Even some of the more experienced players are in their early 20s. There is a sprinkling of youth who have won lots of games and titles. There is a mix there that would suggest the group can only go up. If you have a good group like this then it is important to try and get as much out of it as you can.”
Cathy Carey is particularly important.
McNeilly said: “She is inspirational. She had an excellent game. As the game went on she got stronger. Her performance epitomised the Moneyglass performance. Cathy was in the centre of everything that we did. But there were other players that played a huge role. They don’t get the credit they deserve so it really is a team effort.”
However, while Moneyglass are the champions now, McNeilly pointed out that St Paul’s will be back stronger next year.
“People outside both camps might ask if St Paul’s dominance is over, but you’d be a fool to write them off. They will be back next year. They will be hurting and will regroup. That is only good for Antrim football that that competition will continue.
“St Brigid’s will join St Paul’s and Moneyglass at senior grade. St Brigid’s are doing a lot of work at underage level.
“There is a huge gap in Antrim football. There is a huge difference between senior and intermediate, and intermediate and junior. Yes, Moneyglass’s win will help Antrim football but I think that gap will continue.”