DONEGAL Ladies U16s are looking to upset the odds when they take on Cavan in the Ulster A final in Augher, Co Tyrone this Saturday (throw-in 1pm).
It has been nine years since a Donegal girls gaelic team landed an A provincial title.
And in recent years Cavan have been mopping up titles – they have already won the U14A title this year and are hoping to lift both the U16A and Minor A titles in the double header in Tyrone. Cavan play Monaghan in the Minor decider at 3pm at the St Macartan’s club.
Yet Donegal U16s will fancy their chances with all players coming through senior club games over the bank holiday weekend.
Donegal topped their group with wins over Monaghan, Armagh, Antrim and Derry before seeing off Tyrone in the semi-final two weeks ago.
Cavan topped Group 2 and beat Armagh in their semi-final.
“The girls are looking forward to the final,” said manager Greg Harkin.
“We’ve had a great year so far and played some lovely football along the way, so we’re happy that we’ve prepared in the best way possible.
“The girls come from 17 clubs across the county and they know each other well because most of them have played with each other in previous county set-ups.
“Twenty of the girls were on the panel when we took the U14s to the A final against Cavan two years ago. Others have been through county academies too, so there has been a good team spirit there to work with from the start and good craic too.
“At the end of the day I can only ask the girls to be their best on the day and I am very confident that’s what they will be. Individually they are all very good players, but they’ve really shown they can work as a unit and adapt to suit the team and that has been our focus all along.
“I’m really pleased with all their efforts and hard work. They are a real credit to the clubs and their families.”
Harkin (St Eunan’s) is assisted by coaches Barry Ward (Aodh Ruadh) and Joanne McKenna (Glenfin) along with Lorena Barron (St Mary’s Convoy).
“The girls have been fantastic all year. They’ve worked really hard in training right through that long winter,” says Ward.
“It was clear to me from the outset that we had a very talented squad of girls and they deserve to be competing at this stage and beyond.”
McKenna is hoping Donegal can beat Cavan 24 hours before the senior men go head-to-head in the same fixture in the Ulster Championship on Sunday.
“It would be great to get our ladies gaelic supporters to Augher on Saturday,” said Joanne.
“The venue is very handy for Cavan so we expect they will have a lot of support. For some of our girls it will be a journey of well over three hours so we’d be delighted if our supporters came out to cheer on the girls. I know some underage club teams are planning to go along. The more, the merrier.”
The U16s have been sponsored this year by the Shandon Hotel & Spa, Marble Hill, Dunfanaghy.
Training facilities have been provided by St Eunan’s and Coláiste Ailigh, Letterkenny.
Donegal panel: Bronagh Gallagher (N Conaill), Aoife Greene (St Naul’s), Mya Alcorn (Termon), Blathnait Gallagher (Glenswilly), Ellie Barron (St Mary’s Convoy), Louise Doherty (N Columba), Eimer Alcorn (Termon), Caoimhe Kelly (St Eunan’s), Aisling Irwin (Milford), Roisin Rodgers (N Muire), Caoimhe Keon (Aodh Ruadh), Leeza Cunningham (N Columba), Niamh Harkin (St Eunan’s), Danielle McGinley (Glenfin), Niamh Walsh (St Eunan’s), Laoise Ryan (St Eunan’s), Helena McGee (Cloughaneely), Megan Ryan (Milford), Holly Gillespie (Mac Cumhaills)mAnais Doherty (Carndonagh), Sarah Ni Gallachoir (Gaoth Dobhair), Katie Long (Glenfin), Ciara McGuire (N Columba), Leah Gallen (MacCumhaills), Ciara O’Donnell (St Eunan’s), Niamh McDonald (Moville), Megan Havlin (N Padraig Muff), Aisling McLaughlin (N Padraig Muff), Megann Ferry (Milford), Grace McColgan (N Padraig Muff), Caitlin McGarrigle (Aodh Ruadh), Nadine Furey (N Conaill)