By Niall McCoy
LOUISE Toner feels that the recent exploits of the Armagh camogie and ladies football teams can only help female participation in the Orchard county.
The footballers caught the imagination with a run to the All-Ireland semi-final where they lost narrowly to Dublin, and Michael Murphy’s camogs took on the baton and eventually saw off Cavan to claim the All-Ireland Premier Junior title at the weekend.
The spotlight has very much been on female sport in the county over the last number of weeks and although there are inevitably some issues for the dual players, the St Brenda’s, Ballymacnab player believes that the two codes can spur each other on.
“Ladies football isn’t affecting camogie, not at all,” said Toner.
“The problem lies with matches maybe clashing so it just needs good communication between everyone.
“The dual players have an awful lot of training each week. They could be out six, seven days a week or out with one team from 6pm to 7pm and then onto the other team from 7pm to 8pm. So we just need to make sure they’re looked after.”
Armagh were favourites going into Saturday’s final at Kingspan Breffni, but they found Cavan extremely difficult to shake off with their opponents on a high following their recent Nancy Murray success.
The Orchard county got the job done though, and embarked on a tour of Middletown, Madden, Milford and Armagh where they were greeted by well-wishers.
“Cavan were very physical and it took us a while to get going against them, but thankfully it all worked out and we got over the line,” Toner continued.
“Armagh camogie is on the up in my opinion. We could compete at intermediate level if we get the players committed. The win will help.
“We weren’t allowed the cup home unfortunately, and we had to stay on the bus, but it was so nice to see people supporting us and the crowds out.
“There were fireworks and all that and then we met at the Athletic Grounds.”
Toner, who was working in England and missed the 2016 final loss to Carlow, feels that her own ability was helped by a season’s training with the famed Danesfort club in Kilkenny.
“I lived in Kilkenny for a year and I trained with them,” she said. “It’s Richie Hogan’s club and I trained along with Richie’s sister Rachel.
“I played matches for Ballymacnab, I never transferred or anything, it was just for the training. Ballymacnab will always be my club.
“It was a brilliant experience, they had great girls and you were playing with some top players. Kilkenny won the All-Ireland that year and they had a Danesfort player (Sarah Kent) there.”
For Toner, the 0-19 to 3-7 win over the Breffni county was another great moment in an already great season – but she is hoping that the full lid hasn’t been put on it just yet.
Back in September, St Brenda’s retained the Armagh Championship and four of the Orchard players – Toner, Laura Smyth, Eimear Smyth and Ellie McKee- will try and help them into an Ulster Junior Club final.
Toner, who shared the club captaincy with Danielle McKee, is hoping for further joy when they come up against Derry champions Glen in 2021.
“Our club Ulster is due to be played in early 2021, but we have no official word,” said the Poc Fada specialist.
“We’re just waiting on that to come around basically but in sporting terms it has been a great year.
“Last year we won the Ulster Club and we’ve tried to build on that really this year. The icing on the cake was the All-Ireland with Armagh.”