An historic first for Glenavy

By Michael McMullan

DELIGHT is the emotion of choice for Mary McStravick as Glenavy embark on a first ever Ulster Ladies’ final on Sunday.

The Antrim champions added wins over Naomh Muire, Rostrevor and Ballyhaise to book a date with Steelstown (Carrickmore, 2pm).

Excitement and delight, that’s the mood in the camp.

“It is just fantastic and we have the whole support of the club behind us,” McStravick said of the buzz.

The sea of faces at a recent coffee morning was a show of support. The growing numbers flocking to games is another. Being surrounded by well wishers after the final whistle is another ingredient. Young fans, their coaches and the greater Glenavy family are all on board.

“Everyone is talking about the Glenavy senior ladies team…everybody,” McStravick said. “You’d pass people in the town and people would be saying the same thing, the whole club is behind us, 100 per cent.”

After winning the Antrim title, it was the one game at a time mantra. Glenavy knew the challenges would be tougher against the various champions of Ulster.

They’ve kept tipping away with the training that has worked for the last 11 months.

With each win in Ulster came another portion of belief that they do belong in the Ulster scene. Their results have backed that up.

Their convincing wins in Antrim made them reevaluate. A glance around the camp and they realised the tools were there to take their crusade to the next level.

“It is all about self-belief,” McStravick added.

“Our coaches work really hard and they have been pushing us on in each session. We just knew there was more in us to give, so we just kept building from that.”

So, what would it be like if they were to bring home the silver on Sunday? The answer is as simple as the question – it would be “absolutely fantastic”.

“To say you were in a team that won an Ulster final, it would be unbelievable,” McStravick continued.

“Especially with us moving into senior next year, it is a tough competition where you are going to be playing Moneyglass and St Paul’s.

“I think it would give you the confidence and that you deserve to be in that competition 100 per cent.

“That you have proved yourself that you have got that far, so it would be absolutely fantastic.”

On Sunday, they’ll face a Steelstown side who were a whisker from the title in 2021 when they were edged out by Kinawley.

The Brian Ógs haven’t lost a game in Derry since Ballymaguigan ousted them in the 2019 semi-final and their momentum is building.

There is also a link through Glenavy centre back Bronagh Forester, cousin of Steelstown’s All-Ireland winning men’s captain Neil.

“Every team you come up against at this stage, you know it is going to be a fantastic team,” McStravick said of Sunday’s opponents.

“I can’t say I know too much about them but they are in a final and we know we are going to be facing a fantastic team on the day.

“We will just focus on ourselves and prepare for the game, that’s all we can do at this stage.”

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