By Niall Gartland
BALLYMACNAB camogs are bidding for their fourth senior championship in-a-row this Friday night, and stalwart Michelle McArdle insists she’s as hungry as ever for success.
First of all, their committed management team are set to step down at the end of the season, so that’s something McArdle is mindful of, and she’d also like another crack at Ulster after some near-misses in recent seasons.
Asked why they’ve dominated in Armagh since 2019, McArdle is happy to doff the cap to their management team.
“We’ve been very lucky to be in with ‘Maco’ (Sean Hughes), Una Kearney and Sean King this last few years.
“They’re extremely committed and the girls respect them a lot. We’ve a couple of young players coming through but on the whole we’re a close-knit team and we feel we have so much more to give.
“I feel we missed out on winning two Ulster titles, so this year we’re more determined and don’t want to let things slip. ‘Maco’ and Sean are leaving us this year as well, so we want to make it a campaign to remember.”
Vice-captain of the Armagh team, McArdle was also happy to get back to club duty after the disappointment of losing to Antrim Seconds in the All-Ireland Intermediate final a few months back.
“That was devastating surely, but it was great to get back into the club, it’s your roots and why you end up playing county camogie in the first place.
“It was good to get back with the girls. What can you do, you just have to keep going. We all play to get rewards but it’s a sport at the end of the day so you just have to get back on the wagon.”
McArdle has been playing at ‘adult’ level for two decades now, and says her parents are a big reason why she has been able to come back on a yearly basis.
“I’ve been playing since I was 15 so it’s a brave while. Thankfully I’ve never had anything hold me back. I’ve three kids, but my parents support me so much and only for them I wouldn’t be able to do this, and we’ll get this year over with but hopefully I can continue on for another while.”
Their opponents this Friday night are Granemore, who eked out a semi-final replay victory over Keady. Ballymacnab defeated Granemore in last year’s final, and they’ve also had an extra week to prepare, but McArdle says they’re fully focused on the task ahead.
“We’ve been keeping our training nice and steady, there’s nothing really new there. We try to set ourselves up the same way no matter who we play. Granemore got it tough against Keady, but I know Keady did a lot of work this year and were very up for the championship. I’m expecting it to go to wire this on Friday night.”