Maeve Kelly savours her first Ulster success

By Niall Gartland

ANTRIM camog Maeve Kelly had special reason to savour last weekend’s Ulster Senior Championship final success against Derry.

The Ballycastle girl missed out on their Ulster title success of 2022 due to an ACL injury, so this was her first time landing honours at provincial level.

They didn’t have it all their own way in the final against Derry in a hugely competitive contest but they did enough to prevail on a scoreline of 1-11 to 0-11.

But it was never likely to be easy as the Oakleafers are a coming force, and they’re also managed by Loughgiel native PJ O’Mullan, a man who knows a thing or two about Antrim camogie.

Kelly said: “We knew what we were in for, especially as a lot of the Loughgiel girls trained under PJ. They were going to be prepared for us and we were a bit nervous before the game.

“We’d a five-week break before the league whereas they played in a league final and Ulster Championship semi-final. It was a long enough period for us to be out of action so we knew we’d have to be on our game.”

It had the potential to be a difficult season for the Saffrons as there was upheaval on the managerial front but they’ve steadied the ship under the new management team led by Carl McCormick and Martin Coulter. They managed to maintain their league status and now they’ve made amends for last year’s Ulster final defeat at the hands of Down.

Kelly said: “The difference between January and now is just crazy, it’s been a complete 180 for us.

“We’ve really pulled it together under Carl, Martin and Joey (Quinn). They got everyone out and we’ve really given it 100 per cent every day we play.”

Kelly’s sister Fionnuala also lined out at the weekend, and they know each other’s game inside out.

“It’s funny in a way, she knows exactly how I play which is great, she can always find me and knows what way I like the ball passed to me. She complements my style of play very well. I’m just very grateful to be playing as I’ve had my injury problems in the last wee while.”

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