Collins hoping for one last push in All-Ireland showdown

By Michael McMullan

IT’S been a season to remember for the camogs of St Patrick’s Maghera and Lavey’s Carla Collins hopes their magical journey isn’t finished yet.

The Ulster champions face four-time champions Loreto Kilkenny on Saturday (St Peregrine’s Blanchardstown 2pm) after ousting reigning champions Presentation Athenry in the semi-final.

“When we began at the start of the year we knew we had lots of potential and now that we are in an All-Ireland final we are very happy with all the performances,” said Collins, who has been in accurate form in the Maghera attacking unit. “Now, hopefully we can push through and reach the end on Saturday.”

Collins landed a combined 0-11 total across their Ulster semi-final and final wins over St Louis Ballymena and St Killian’s Garron Tower before chipping in with points in their win over Athenry, a game decided by goals from Caoimhe Kearney and Caoimhe Chambers.

Maghera were ticking along early in the season before their panel began to full assemble as the stakes got higher.

“Throughout the group stages we only had our senior panel and the junior panel wasn’t there,” said Collins, praising the younger group who have also booked their All-Ireland final spot with victory last weekend.

“We knew we were going to get more players come the knock-out stages. Then we played St Louis in the semi-final and from then we knew we could do it.”

Seated in the foyer of St Patrick’s College Sports Hall, surrounded by photos of winning teams from yesteryear, Collins is excited about how well the group has come together as the season developed.

“We went to Dublin over the Christmas holidays and the bonding was really good. All the girls were talking, the craic was geat and that trip really helped us bond…both seniors and juniors,” she pointed out.

Collins, a current Lower Sixth pupil, was an Ulster winner in Year 8 before losing an u-14 final to St Louis who they edged out in last year’s Junior final after missing out on action during the Covid lockdown spell.

Success has never been far away, something she feels comes from the raw materials at club level being moulded into a winning team in school.

“We have a pretty strong team next year and for a few years so hopefully we can bring success from this year,” she said.

“You have all the clubs from Derry and there are a few Antrim girls. They have all brought their experience from each club and it breed success.”

What would it mean if Maghera could finish their season off with a first ever All-Ireland senior title after three defeats in the school’s history.

“It would be my dream to come true,” Collins concluded. “There has been success getting to the All-Ireland final, but there would be even more if we can win it this weekend and take the cup home.”

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