By Michael McMullan
MONEYGLASS must be clinical in front of goal when they take on Down champions Bredagh this weekend insists ace forward Órlaith Prenter.
The Saffron star kicked 0-16 as Moneyglass saw off St Paul’s to retain their Antrim senior title, but insists it wasn’t her best performance.
It capped off another fine season that saw her kick the pressure point to save Antrim on All-Ireland final day before finishing the job against Fermanagh in the replay.
“Now it’s just Moneyglass I am focusing on, so I’m training two or three times a week,” said Prenter, a business student at University of Ulster in Magee.
“It used to be six or seven days during the week during the middle of the season with county and club.”
She finds the time to squeeze in a camogie career during the season for Tír na nÓg Randalstown, but now it’s about trying to progress on the Ulster stage.
At the age of 16, she lost her first final against St Paul’s, a one-point defeat in 2016 that she ranks as the most disappointing defeat.
There were defeats by bigger margins, but the close shaves hurt more and last year was the monkey off the back. Prenter found the net three times to end St Paul’s search for a tenth successive title.
“I don’t know how to describe last year,” she said. “It was a massive sense of relief and there wasn’t much pressure…nobody really expected anything from us and I felt the pressure was on us this year.”
It ended the years of dressing rooms of pain and hurt, with barely a word spoke and nights back at the Tumbledown after finals, with the awkward silence.
“Last year we went in at half-time and we were winning by a good bit and I’d never experienced beating them by that much,” Prenter remembers of last year’s win.
“I remember being in shock with the lead we had, but Cathy warned us that if we managed to lose, she’d never speak to any of us ever again. That’s when I copped on how serious it all was.”
After missing out on glory and living in the shadow of St Paul’s, Moneyglass are now on the up and have been bolstered by an underage structure with senior players like Cathy Carey at the forefront.
“Cathy would have been my manager,” Prenter points out of her underage days. “It is great when they (past and current players) get involved in the coaching, it helps massively
“If you watch our u-14s or u-16s…they are all unreal footballers. Playing on the county with the players from other clubs, and against other county teams is going to benefit them.
“In a couple of years’ time, us older ones will be fighting for our position. We may enjoy it while we can, in a few years’ time we might be on the bench.”
Moneyglass had an unbeatable year on the pitch across all ladies grades. On top of a clean sweep or u-14, u-16, minor and senior – all at the top grade – they won the Antrim u-15 ‘A’ Féile on their way to the All-Ireland title.
The future is bright, but for now, it’s about senior progress on the Ulster stage. Last year’s journey began with victory over Armagh Harps before defeating a Bredagh side that took giants Donaghmoyne to an Ulster final replay.
“If you look back at the age of our team last year, there were a couple of 16 or 17 year olds,” Prenter points out.
“We have that experience from last year and know what to build on. We know Bredagh and they know us just as well.
“It will be hard work, but we are going in confident that we can get the job done this time.”