Donaghmoyne star McConnell embracing Croke Park opportunity


DONAGHMOYNE are hoping to add a sixth All-Ireland Senior crown to their trophy cabinet on Saturday, and veteran Cathriona McConnell says winning it in Croke Park would make it all the more special.

The 20-time Monaghan and 14-time Ulster champions take on last year’s champions Kilkerrin-Clonberne, and the opportunity to play at headquarters has given them an extra spring in their step.

“It’s amazing as a ladies club to get the chance to run out in Croke Park,” said McConnell.

“We’ve obviously had other All-Ireland finals, but they have been spread out around the country. So, to get the chance to experience Croke Park as a club, has given everyone a great buzz, and hopefully the whole of Donaghmoyne will be there supporting us on Saturday.”

McConnell has been in the news recently, becoming something of a viral sensation, after arriving to the All-Ireland semi-final via helicopter. The Donaghmoyne forward had just celebrated her wedding the day before they defeated Kilmacud Crokes in the last four, and she reflected on a hectic weekend.

“It’s nearly like a blur; it’s hard to remember specifics because it was so busy. But it was brilliant,” she said.

“I enjoyed myself on Saturday, and Sunday I suppose just topped the weekend off. It was a crazy weekend, but thankfully everything worked out ok in the end.”

As for the helicopter, it’s doubtful many players in history have ever arrived at a Gaelic football match in such fashion, but McConnell says that she didn’t realise the novelty of what she had done until after it blew up online.

“To be fair to the club, they had organised it for me during the week,” she said.

“When it was first suggested I sort of passed no remarks, it was a case of going with the flow and seeing what happens. It just meant that I could have a bit of extra time in the morning leaving the hotel, and it meant that I could get to the pitch that little bit quicker and have time to get myself together before the game.

“Looking back it was a bit mad, I didn’t really think anything of it at the time, my mindset was just to get to the match as quickly as I could.”

Despite a busy day beforehand, McConnell had enough in her legs to deliver a top-class performance, scoring 0-7 of her side’s tally as they defeated Kilmacud Crokes 1-11 to 0-7.

“I probably was a little bit tired,” she conceded.

“But I had the adrenaline from Saturday and the buzz from the home crowd and had most of my guests from the wedding making their way over the road to go to the game, so I enjoyed every minute of it.

“But come the end of the game I was absolutely exhausted; my legs were giving in, but thankfully we were well ahead at that stage.”

Having won All-Ireland titles in 2006, 2009, 2012, 2015 and 2016, Donaghmoyne have shown remarkable consistency to still be battling on the biggest stage of club football, and McConnell puts that down to hard work, and the addition of exciting young blood coming through.

“They all say, ‘do you not get sick of winning?’ But who does?”

“We make a big effort at training all year, so we want to win as much as we can.

“They’re a great bunch of girls, they’re so dedicated to the club, and the older you get, you appreciate winning even more.

“It just comes down to hard work, and a great club and management team behind us, who keep us motivated year-round.

There is a good mix at the minute, because we have a number of younger girls coming in, who, I suppose they would have looked up to us down through the years, and they’re getting their chance now.

“The realise the commitment and the passion that we have for the club in every game that we play, and they have just slotted into the team, and they’re well capable of stepping up to the challenge.”

Their opponents on Saturday, Glaway’s Kilkerrin-Clonberne, won 2-8 to 0-8 when the two sides collided in last year’s semi-final, but McConnell says Donaghmoyne will be looking to learn lessons from that defeat and nail their game-plan this weekend.

“We’re looking forward to it, I wouldn’t say that it’s revenge. We’re just focussing on getting our game-plan right and hopefully it works out on the day.”

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