Underdog tag suited us says Donegal’s McGroddy

By Shaun Casey

DONEGAL upset the odds in Owenbeg last Sunday to overturn heavy favourites Armagh and capture the Ulster title for the first time in four years. The Orchard County have dominated the provincial scene in recent seasons, but Donegal are now back on top.

It’s been a tough 2023 for Maxi Curran’s charges, who were relegated from the top tier after losing all seven of their outings. But they came good in the championship, and that underdogs’ tag may have helped says the experienced Shannon McGroddy.

“It’s been a really, really tough year,” said McGroddy, who entered the fray in the last few nerve-jangling minutes.

“I suppose we’re in a transitional period and a lot of young girls had to step up to the plate and they did it when it was needed most and it’s great to have another Ulster title. I think that really suited us, we came in under the radar for the Ulster Championship.

“I suppose people on the outside didn’t have belief in us as a squad but as long as we had that ourselves. We came into today believing that we could win it and that’s what came through thankfully.”

It’s the third season in a row that Armagh and Donegal battled it out for provincial honours, and it once again went right down to the wire. In 2020, Armagh won with a last-gasp point while the Orchard County needed extra-time to secure the title last season.

And this year, Armagh led by the minimum of margins late in the game, but Donegal rattled off 1-2 in the final quarter to overcome their fierce rivals.

“They’ve (Armagh) been a real force to be reckoned with at the top table. We had our spell, they had theirs and I suppose it’s tit for tat every year and it was just good to get the upper hand today.

“We talked before the game about being present in the moment and I think our girls really did that today, every moment counted, play for play, and it really paid off.”

It was McGroddy’s fifth Ulster title, but for a lot of the girls on the team, they were picking up their first.

“They all mean a lot, but I think this one was really sweet, just coming in, sneaking in under the radar, which is really good. It’s great and hopefully it spurs the girls on now again for next year.”

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