Monaghan take on Armagh in Ulster Ladies final

MONAGHAN ladies manager Ciaran Murphy is angry at the lack of preparation his side have been afforded for this week’s hastily arranged Ulster SFC final against Armagh.

The Farney ladies were knocked out of the All-Ireland championship by Galway a month ago, after which they were told they could no longer participate in collective training even though they had a fair idea they would have to play in a rearranged Ulster Championship semi-final clash against Cavan at a later date.

The Breffni County withdrew from the competition giving Monaghan a free run into the final, but they were only able to get back training when informed late last week that the Ulster Championship final was a goer.

Murphy made no attempt to conceal his disappointment when speaking to Gaelic Life earlier this week, and it’s yet more bad publicity for the Ladies’ game after the Galway-Cork venue debacle at the weekend.

It’s been a disaster as we weren’t able to train after the Galway game. We were told straight after the game that we weren’t allowed to train any more, then we got word about the Ulster final last week so we could start up again. It’s been very difficult.

The girls look after themselves well but it’s almost like going back to the start in terms of ball-handling and working on styles of play and so on. If it isn’t played now it’ll be the middle of February, it needs to be closed out but the competition has been really devalued.

There’s no Donegal and now there’s no Cavan, and we’ve had next-to-no preparation or training. They talk about player welfare but when the game goes ahead we’ll have had three training sessions in about five weeks. It’s hardly ideal.”

It’s a bit of a shame that it’s come to this as it’s been an otherwise productive season for the Monaghan ladies after a really poor 2019.

They’ve bounced back this year, and a victory over Tipperary in the All-Ireland Championship was followed by a one-point defeat to Galway in a do-or-die group stage clash.

Their opponents Armagh, meanwhile, are aiming to make amends for Ulster final defeats in 2018 and 2019. They were left devastated by a five-point defeat in the All-Ireland final against Dublin a week-and-a-half ago, but on the flipside they have more training banked than the Farney girls.

Murphy makes the point that the Ulster final wouldn’t go ahead in these circumstances if it were the men’s game instead.

If you look at it like this, there’s no way a men’s Ulster final would be played if they hadn’t been able to train for a month, it simply wouldn’t happen. I suppose we had the option of saying we’re not playing it, but in fairness to our girls they said they worked hard all year so they might as well give it a go.

We’ve had two good training sessions and our girls have been brilliant, but it’s very difficult. We’ll hope to get a good performance out of the girls but it’s not the ideal situation.”

Ulster Senior Ladies Championship final

Monaghan v Armagh

Saturday, Clones, 1.30pm,

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