By Michael McMullan
DRUMSURN camogs backed up their Derry Junior Championship with a run to Saturday’s Bridie McMenamin Shield final against Rasharkin (Portglenone, 2pm).
The Derry champions were 3-15 to 4-10 winners in a thriller against Edendork before a semi-final win (1-15 to 0-4) took them to within an hour of Ulster glory.
For skipper Shauneen Mullan, the Derry League and Championship success has marked an unbeaten season so far that heads towards the final fork in the road.
“I can’t ever remember not playing Camogie,” Mullan commented to Gaelic Life on a career of over 30 years. “I grew up with a hurl in my hand from a very young age.”
With two pieces of silverware already in the bag, they have the opportunity to make history and go one step further than Ballerin who lost out in the 2022 decider to Cushendall.
“We want to be the first Drumsurn team to win Ulster and do the treble – to make it the most memorable season for the club,” she added.
The difference this year has been their mentality and a desire to be “better and better”. It has helped generate a belief going into each game that they can compete with anyone.
“The large numbers turning up for training sessions two to three times per week is testament to our management and the squad’s desire to be the best we can,” Mullan added of another reason for the Drumsurn progress.
“Our management of Martina (O’Connor) and Mary (O’Kane), along with a few guest coaches throughout the year have got us fitter, sharper and more skillful.
“The squad have went over and beyond in our own time as well with gym sessions, ensuring we are recovering as best we can, and a real bond as a group of friends doing what we love together.”
Mullan sees it as a “real privilege” to still be playing for Drumsurn in a squad that can mix both focus and the ability to have a laugh when the time comes.
“It has been a joy to lead the girls,” she stated. “It’s an exciting time to be involved in the team and as a club as a whole with all the developments on and off the pitch.
“The committee are driving the club forward off the pitch and we are delighted to be able to bring success on the pitch.
“The whole community is behind the club. You only need to look at all the sponsorship offered and flags flying to see that.
“We hope we inspire the younger generations coming up to believe that they too can compete, onwards and upwards, as Martina says.”
Looking ahead to Saturday and being one of two teams still standing, there is a brilliant feeling to have fulfilled something they fully believed in. At the start of the season, getting to the final was firmly in their sights.
“Our main aim was to win the county championship because we believe we are good enough for Intermediate league,” Mullan added.
“We were determined to get a crack at that next season. To get to the Ulster final has felt like a real bonus…it’s been brilliant to still be out training and still together as a squad.
“We want that great feeling at the end of the match on Saturday and will do whatever it takes to make sure we are the last team standing.”
Standing in their way is a Rasharkin team they played in challenge games in recent seasons.
“The games have been close and hard hitting,” Mullan concluded, “but this will be totally different on Saturday with both teams going for the win and having the whole atmosphere of the final.”