Clann Éireann’s Henderson hoping to make home advantage count

By Shaun Casey

IT’S not every day that your club contests an All-Ireland semi-final but the chance to play in such a massive game in the comfort of your own home pitch is an opportunity that only comes around once in a generation.

That’s the exciting prospect that Clann Eireann ladies face this weekend as they welcome Ballymacarby of Waterford to Lurgan.

“I was shocked and surprised whenever I heard that the game was at home,” said Clann Eireann captain Niamh Henderson, who guided her team to a first-ever Ulster title two weeks ago.

“I actually feel a bit sorry for them having to make the journey up the road but we’re so lucky to have it at home and I’d rather them that us.

“All the club and community are buzzing. It’s just around the corner and I’m sure we’ll have a great support out and we can’t wait. When you do those big journeys, you get off the bus and you feel a bit stiff and stuff like that so that definitely is a big factor.

“We just have to come around the corner and we know that pitch like the back of our hands, we’re training in it week in, week out. It’s been a long year and we’re so thankful for it, we know every blade of it.”

The new Armagh ladies manager Greg McGonigle took over Clann Eireann this season and Henderson has laid a lot of their success at his feet. From the start of the season, McGonigle instilled a lot of belief into the team that has carried them through to this stage.

“Definitely last year we would have never pictured ourselves in this situation, even winning Ulster, we were just happy to win the (Armagh) championship back last year. This year, winning Ulster was unbelievable.

“We sort of knew three or four months into our training with our new manager Greg, he set the standard and got us believing in ourselves and how good we are because our team hadn’t really changed.

“It was just that belief that year and maybe halfway through the season we thought that we can do this, and Greg always believed in it. Greg has been the driving force behind our team this year.

“At the start of the year we were struggling to get a manager for a few months, no one would take us. We asked everybody and Mags McAlinden went and asked Greg and he said yes and ever since then, the level of coaching has been amazing.

“We had three games in the Armagh Championship and three in the Ulster campaign and he would have always spoke about game four out of six and so on. We’ve now changed that to game seven out of eight so we’re really going to go for it.

“We have nothing to lose, we’ve made history with our Ulster title which we’re delighted with, but we’re really motivated to take it one step further again, why not?”

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