D-day for Derrylaughan Camogs

By Ronan McSherry

THE green and white flags and bunting is up as supporters from the Loughshore get ready to head to Drogheda to cheer on their camogs in the All Ireland Junior ‘B’ Championship Club Final.

Derrylaughan is buzzing with anticipation of one of the biggest days in their history as Knockananna of Wicklow stand between them and the ultimate glory.

Manager Alan Taylor is fully aware of the task that lies ahead for his team as the Leinster champions were narrowly defeated by Naomh Treasa Dungannon in the 2020 All Ireland final that was delayed to just three months ago in December due to Covid restrictions. Naomh Treasa won that by the narrowest margin of one point. These Derrylaughan players have had many great battles with the Naomh Treasa team and are well aware Knockanna are at a similar level.

Alan, who is from Middletown in Co Armagh, is in his first year with the Derrylaughan team and says it has ‘re-ignited his passion’ for coaching again after spending the previous number of years refereeing games of camogie, hurling and football.

A former county hurler, he explained, “I broke my knee playing for Armagh when I was about 26 and that was the end of my playing career. Before that I had done some coaching with Ballymacnab senior camogie team. Last year a woman who works with Bronagh Carney asked would I get involved and I’ve been going up and down to Derrylaughan since. I’ve really enjoyed it.

“ The girls are brilliant and I try to bring what bit of knowledge I have to it. Its a joint management with Claire Fitzpatrick. This is a fantastic journey getting to an All Ireland final and people have patted me on the back and said, ‘well done’ but the reality is these girls were trained for years before I got here, so there are many more people to be patted on the back.”

Derrylaughan had a convincing win over Éire Óg in the Tyrone Final. In the Ulster semi-final, which was played at home, they defeated Cullyhanna of Armagh by six points and then as fate would have it, a toss of a coin meant home advantage again in the final against Cavan champions Castetara.

Full forward Caoimhe Coyle bagged 3-1 in the semi-final and 2-4 in the final at the Barrys were crowned Ulster champions amid great scenes of celebration. However it came at a price with the loss of star centre-half back Emma McAliskey, who is still unavailable after being injured in the semi-final. The God of venues smiled on Derrylaughan again for the All Ireland semi-final.

Alan explained, “We were due to play Roscommon team Oran at a venue in Cavan and the night before the game their pitch became unavailable. We agreed to a toss of a coin and it fell for us again. There is no doubt it was a huge boost and we made the most of it.

ONE MORE STEP…All Ireland finalists Derrylaughan

“We have a great mix of youth and experience. We have players like Alisha Gervin who is only 17 and Anna Hagney another minor starting every game and the more experienced players like Caoimhe and there’s Ashling Hagan and Bronagh Carney who has been around a long time and given so much to this team.”

Alan is aware this is the opportunity of a lifetime to make club history.

“Camogie has been the poor relation here but in the last few months Dungannon and ourselves have won Junior Ulster titles, Eglish won an Intermediate Ulster title and of course Dungannon went on to win the All Ireland. If that success encourages other girls to lift the sticks that would be great. Knockananna will be hungry after losing the final last year and we will have to match them and more.

“It is a fantastic occasion for Derrylaughan players and supporters. Most people play their whole careers and never get to an All Ireland final. It is the pinnacle of a player’s career, you can’t go any further. We targeted Ulster and it has snowballed since then. There will be a big support going to Drogheda and the girls will give it everything they’ve got. They are a credit to the club”.

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