By Niall Gartland
DONAGHMOYNE are bidding for their 13th Ulster Senior Club title this weekend, and Hazel Kingham has played her part in every single one of those successes.
It’s almost hard to fathom but she’s also lined out on a yearly basis during Donaghmoyne’s run to 20 successive county titles (a mind-boggling statistic on every level), so it’s fair to say experience isn’t in short supply heading into this weekend’s final against Antrim side Moneyglass.
Kingham has many golden memories from her playing days – none more so coming up from full-back to kick two winning scores in the 2015 All-Ireland final against Mourneabbey – but a couple of recent defeats in All-Ireland semi-finals are also a source of hurt for her and her colleagues.
“The players are still as passionate as ever, you always want to do as best you can every year and go that step further. We’re hoping we can do better than we did previously – I think that loss in the semi-final last year really hurt us we we’re hoping we can fare better this year.”
It must be difficult for Donaghmore not to take their success for granted almost, but Kingham says their management team, spearheaded by the legendary Francie Coleman, keeps them grounded.
“We always have a tough game against Emyvale in Monaghan, you always have that little bit of fear heading into any game. Our management don’t let us get complacent either, it’s something they’d speak to us about. Once that factor is removed, you’re never going to be overly confident heading into any game.”
Kingham is one of four Donaghmoyne girls who have been ever-present on their run to 20 Monaghan titles (Linda Martin, Joanne Geoghegan and Sharon Courtney complete the quartet). Ultimately she does it because she enjoys it.
“We’ve played in all 20 finals and it’s a great thing to be able to point to. I just want to keep going as long as I can, the idea of staying at the top is very motivating and you enjoy every year just the same. There’s nothing else in life that gives me the same enjoyment as football.”
Asked if she’s ever been tempted to take a break, Hazel said: “At certain times of the year you do have the opportunity to get away, I was in New York in 2012 for a few months and was lucky enough I was able to come back to Donaghmoyne for the club season. Other girls have been in the same position, everyone has basically managed their lives around football but have been able to enjoy the best of both worlds.”
Donaghmoyne were taken to a replay by Bredagh in last year’s Ulster final, but were resounding victors on their second day out. This time around they take on a Moneyglass side who are appearing in their first Ulster Senior final, but have made big strides at underage level in recent years (they defeated Donaghmoyne with plenty to spare in a provincial minor game in 2019).
“Their minor team has worked its way up, I don’t know a huge amount about them but any team that beats Bredagh and St Macartan’s are a force to be reckoned with. We’ll be favourites going into the game but we’re hopeful that our experience will take us over the line.”