REFEREE JULIE O’NEILL – ARMAGH
MONAGHAN’s most experienced defender Eleanor McQuaid is determined to successfully steer the side in from the cold against Cavan in Sunday’s Ulster camogie championship derby at Inniskeen (12.30).
For the first time in four years Monaghan is able to compete at this level, in the restructured provincial knockout tournament.
It is a fascinating derby, with the home squad selected from the four senior clubs in the county.
Clontibret ace McQuaid, skipper of last year’s Irish Shinty team, believes the county side is ready for the fresh challenge: “”Although we expect a very tough encounter the girls are looking forward to their first taste of competitive camogie at provincial level. None of the panel has played at ‘senior’ level in Ulster before.
“”Our previous encounters with Cavan were all at underage level – and they usually came out on top. Nonetheless, participation in the Division 4 League and Championship during the past two years has given us some idea of what to expect. We hope that with hard work from all our players we can defeat Cavan this time.””
Inniskeen’s Isabel Kieran, last season’s ‘Monaghan Senior Player of the Year’ is ready for the test: “”When Monaghan played Division 2 side Carlow in the final of the Maire Ni Chinneide Cup last August our girls showed great depth of character and tenacity. Hopefully the same will surface again on Sunday, and we can give Cavan a serious challenge.””
Her Clontibret colleague Marie Greenan is one of the key players in the shooting end of the pitch. She is a talent of exceptional finishing ability. rated one of the finest prospects in the county.
Other Clontibret players in the panel include Aisling Greenan, Ann-Marie McQuaid, Rosita Finnegan, Helen Hughes. Aisling McElvaney, Christina Duffy, Joanne McSkane, Catherine Tomany, Donna Moen and new faces to the squad – the McManus sisters, Laura and Kathy.
Hopes of making an impact also lean heavily on Eileen McElroy and Helen Hughes, Truagh midfielders Sharon McQuillan and Orla Sheerin and defender Mairead McCarron. Included in the pushing for places are Lorraine McKenna and a newcomer from Castleblayney – Dionne Harte. The goalkeeping slot rests between Roisin McKenna and Rosita Finnegan.
Monaghan, with gunsights on the start to Division Five of the National League in May, enter the unknown. Despite a high level of optimism in the enthusiastic camp Cavan would appear to hold an edge in experience.
Their team features Ann Donnellan and Rosie and Miranda Crowe, who gave an excellent account of their skills with the Ulster Junior team last November.
Cavan’s big threat up front is Marie Brady from Lacken. Mairead McCabe has the pace and skill to gain an edge in midfield, while at the back Andrea Lynch is a talented and strong performer.
Monaghan midfielder Orla Sheerin of Truagh concedes Cavan has a much more experienced side, in terms of their participation in the National League over a long number of years. “”But,”” she adds: “”We want to show we are a force to be reckoned with.””