By Michael McMullan
LAVEY’S burgeoning ladies football story heads into the west on Sunday for an All-Ireland semi-final in just their second season of adult football.
After winning the Derry junior championship last season, they didn’t feature in Ulster.
The county’s placing at inter-county means their senior champions play at provincial intermediate level with the intermediate winners advancing to the Ulster junior grade.
Lavey were winners over Dungloe in the recent Ulster final and play Claremorris on Sunday in their own backyard (1.30pm).
“It’s mental,” said Lavey’s Shauneen Rafferty of the buzz around the club.
“The weekend was just unbelievable. The celebrations afterwards…it was just a great day for the club. We haven’t had days like that in this club for a long, long time.
In a feature for Gaelic Life podcast, Gaelic Lives, Rafferty looks back at the club’s 2009 All-Ireland camogie titles and how football has fitted in around the parish.
“You need those days,” she said of the winning feeling. “What makes it better we are almost at Christmas now and there is always tat lull between October time and January and pre-season.
“Now we are nearly at Christmas and we are looking forward to an All-Ireland semi-final. It is great for the parish, it’s great for the children in the parish and it is great for us, as girls, to be representing the club.
“It was great to be presenting it at Ulster level and now to be representing it at All-Ireland level, that’s the highest level you can get.”
Their senior success has followed on from underage silverware this year that saw both Féile titles – ladies football and camogie – proving both codes do work.
After winning the Derry Intermediate Championship, the giddiness subsided and a title at the Ulster series soon became rooted in the squad.
Lavey also have te tradition of winning an All-Ireland men’s title, in 1991, and Rafferty is excited about the chance of getting a crack at a second medal when they take on Claremorris this weekend.
“You need the players, you need the management and you need a bit of luck and we certainly had that last week (against Dungloe),” she said.
“We are talented and we are confident. We know that, on our day, we can beat them.
“That is not cockiness or arrogance it just goes from looking around the changing room at who is beside you.
“Some of the toughest games I have had this year have been in training, If you are marking the likes of Lauren Scullion or Maria Mulholland or players like that in training, it is never easy.”
Speaking before training last week, there was a deep sense of pride her voice while recalling the magical feeling of coming back into the clubhouse with an Ulster title.
“The chance to put on a Lavey jersey to represent your club in an All-Ireland semi-final doesn’t come around too often,” she added.
“It is great for us to lift the parish like that. You don’t know what is going on in people’s lives if you are getting people out for an hour ton watch a match, you don’t know that could be the difference for that person, to lift their mood for a week.”
– Check out this week’s Gaelic Lives podcast for a full interview with Shauneen on her camogie career and the new footballing adventure. – Listen here…