By Michael McMullan
BEING underdogs will take the pressure off three-in-a-row Antrim champions Moneyglass in their Ulster final rematch with Donaghmoyne on Sunday.
That’s the view of star forward Órlaith Prenter ahead of the visit to the Farney giants on Sunday (2pm).
A late goal from Donaghmoyne substitute Grace Cumiskey sealed a 1-11 to 1-7 victory in last year’s Ulster final.
After the game, Prenter was among “more than half” of the Moneyglass squad watching the game back and some have since trawled the footage “well into the double digits” to dig out any feedback.
“There has definitely been a lot of improvement this year with the things we worked on and that didn’t go that well in the latter stages of the game,” added Prenter, who feels the Moneyglass squad is travelling in confidence this weekend.
The Gaelic Life Ulster Club Player of the Year was also named as player of the year at last Friday’s Irish News awards.
She speaks of the obsession of always wanting to better the performances of the previous years. A couple of viewings of last year’s final in her own time have flagged up areas for personal improvement.
The body language of disappointment after having a Ulster title within their sights lingers in the mind.
“You nearly watch the latter stages and you’re not wanting be on the pitch the same way, wondering what you could have done differently,” Prenter added.
“You can only improve and things only can get better this year. Hopefully this year we’ll be happier on the pitch at the end.”
The choice of words and the tone of the conversation tells of the mentality within someone who shoots the lights out on a regular basis.
There is always room for more and Prenter also lifts the lid on the collective Moneyglass approach towards ramping the standards even higher.
And it’s no secret. It’s all about the underage. The key is nurturing and inspiring others to walk in her shoes.
Prenter herself remembers being coached by players such as current captain Cathy Carey.
The club are currently u-16 A champions and, along with senior player Bronagh Devlin, Prenter has coached the minors into the upcoming county final.
“We want them to progress because in a couple of years they’ll be up playing senior football,” Prenter said of her motivation to give something back, in the way others helped her in the path to the top level.
“It’s vitally important that we are putting in the effort with the underage structure because they are going to be the ones in a couple of years playing alongside us and then eventually taking over from us.”
While Prenter acknowledges there can be a struggle to get underage mentors in some clubs, Moneyglass are benefiting from the model of seniors players always wanting to contribute.
“It (the club) is in a place it has never been in before in terms of success,” she said, with the fresh memory of losing four successive senior finals before tasting glory. Others lost nine finals before the silverware arrived.
Moneyglass don’t want to go back to the years when the season was over by the start of October, waiting for the county season to roll around in January.
“We are all at the stage now where we want our football continuing into October and November,” she said.
While an Ulster title is the obvious long-term goal after taking Donaghmoyne to the dying embers of last year’s final, Antrim is always the bread and butter.
That never changes. Then, immediately, the focus flips to pastures further afield, to days like Sunday.
“After the Antrim championship it (the break) probably works in teams’ favour,” Prenter sums up.
“It gives you a few weeks to hone in on a few things that didn’t go well in the Antrim Championship.
“We are in a good place and the match is coming around at a good time.”