By Niall Gartland
DONAGHMOYNE goalkeeper Linda Martin has won 20 county titles, 14 Ulsters and five All-Irelands, but she has redemption on the mind after the disappointment of last year.
The perennial contenders from Monaghan are gearing up for an All-Ireland semi-final against Kilmacud Crokes this weekend, and Martin is mindful of last year’s defeat at the same stage to KilkerrinClonberne.
They’ve made it back this far after pulling off a gritty victory over Moneyglass in the Ulster final, but they don’t want their journey to come to an end just yet.
Martin, who was selected as goalkeeper in last season’s Gaelic Life Ladies Football Team of the Year, said: “Last year’s semi-final defeat was a hard one to take. We’d a few injuries but still weren’t far away, and our opponents went onto convincingly win the All-Ireland.
“You try your best to put those defeats to the back of your mind, and to try to drive onto where you want to be. It’s also a massive thing for us that the All-Ireland final will be played in Croke Park this year but we’ll focus on Sunday first and see where it takes us.”
Their vanquished Ulster final opponents Moneyglass blazed a trail through the province but came undone by 1-11 to 1-7 against Donaghmoyne, managed once again by the legendary Francie Coleman. Winning Ulster titles is nothing new, but it isn’t to be taken for granted either.
“We didn’t know a pile about Moneyglass initially, but they’d good wins over Bredagh and St Macartan’s, two top teams, so we knew it wasn’t going to be easy.
“The conditions didn’t really help either team, it was nearly worse playing with the wind than against it. I have to say they’re a good wee team and will be about for another few years to come.”
On the celebrations, she added: “We were lucky to get across the line and know it won’t last forever so we certainly enjoyed it. We’re known to enjoy ourselves when we do win a match so we celebrated it well.”
Martin is one of four players who have won 20 consecutive senior titles in Monaghan alongside teammates Joanne Geoghegan, Sharon Courtney and Hazel Kingham. It’s quite remarkable really.
“It’s brilliant to have been there for the whole lot of them. It’s mad, I never thought when I started out as the baby of the team that I’d still be here 20 years later.”
Standing in Donaghmoyne’s way of a first All-Ireland final berth since 2016 are Dublin representatives Kilmacud Crokes. This is uncharted territory for Kilmacud but they have plenty of county talent in their ranks.
“I don’t know a pile about them but the management will have their homework done and let us know what we have to do. They’re a bit like Moneyglass, they’ve come up through the ranks. They’ve nothing to lose so it should be a good game.”
Martin is a lot closer to the end of her career than the start, but she’s also confident that sub goalie Rachel McEnaney will step up to the plate when the time comes.
“Rachel’s come into the scene in the last few years, she’s her in twenties and she’s second in line. She’ll step up to the plate and be grand when I do call it a day.”