By Shaun Casey
GRANEMORE camogs are back competing in the Ulster Championship after a three-year absence, and they open their account against a Crosserlough side that saw off Glen by the minimum in round one.
It’s new territory for a lot of the St Mary’s players, who have made the breakthrough to the senior team in recent years.
“In 2016 we reached the (Intermediate) Ulster final and then in ’17 and ’18 we played in Ulster as well,” recalled Granemore captain Aileen Doyle. “We have been there before, but we have a lot of girls that this is new territory for them.
“We have a lot of young girls, and this is their first time playing in Ulster. It’s a massive achievement getting to Ulster, it’s where you want to be. If you’re playing camogie this time of year you know you’re doing well so we’re looking forward to the challenge.”
Granemore lost the last two Armagh finals to arch-rivals Ballymacnab but gained their revenge this season, with a last-minute goal seeing them over the line.
“This year the hunger was there, the feeling of losing the last two finals, we brought that to all our games this year and thankfully we got that win.
“The way we felt in 2020 and 2021, we didn’t want to feel like that again. We used that and bottled that up and brought it to every match.
“It probably wasn’t the best spectacle for supporters, but it was a real intense match. People will maybe say we were lucky to get the goal but at the same time I think you have to make your own luck.
“I’m so lucky I play alongside a lot of girls with a serious work ethic. We’re an extremely hard-working team and we fought right to the end. Matches aren’t over to the final whistle and that just proved it.”
Injuries to key personnel hammered their chances over the past few years, but with the likes of Rachael Merry and Jordan Carr back on the field, Granemore have made massive improvements.
“We’ve been unlucky over the last couple of years, we’ve been hit with a couple of major injuries,” added Doyle. “Last year Rachael did a serious hamstring injury and was out for the year and Jordan did her ACL.
“But the two girls worked so hard over the winter and got back flying fit, and both had massive roles in our championship campaign. Ciara (Hill) did her cruciate at county during the year so she’s getting her operation now in a couple of weeks.
“She came on in the last couple of minutes (of the final), she had been doing her rehab and she was deemed fit to play by our physio and Ciara coming on is a massive boost to us, she’s probably the best player in Armagh. Even seeing her coming onto the field was a huge lift for us all.
“We’re training away, we got back after the championship and now we’re back flat-out training. The mood is good, and everyone is excited and we’re looking forward to the challenge of Ulster.”