Ulster Ladies SFC Final: Donegal determined to deny three-in-a-row chasing Armagh, says Boyle Carr

Amy Boyle Carr
Boyle Carr, the cousin of Donegal men’s player Ethan O’Donnell, says Donegal are keen to “get one back” on Armagh after last year’s Ulster final
Venue: St Tiernach’s Park, Clones dates: Sunday, 22 May Throw in: 15:45 BST
coverage: Watch live on the BBC Sport website and BBC iPlayer; match report on the BBC Sport website

Stopping Armagh’s bid for a hat-trick of Ulster Ladies Football titles is a key motivating factor for Donegal ahead of Sunday’s final, says Amy Boyle Carr.

The Orchard County edged Donegal 3-12 to 3-11 in last year’s gripping Healy Park decider.

Armagh also won the 2020 title but Donegal did not compete in that year’s championship.

“To them, they’ll see it that they’re going for three in a row,” said Naomh Conaill’s Boyle Carr.

“But we hadn’t played in one of the previous years. We were the Ulster champions that year so to have the Ulster championship without the Ulster champions, to us we didn’t really see it as them going for three in a row.

“But they are going for it, so obviously we don’t want to see Armagh lifting the third title in three years. That’s another big one for us, to try and get up on them as well and it’s more encouragement for ourselves to try and get over the line more.”

In last year’s finalNiamh Reel’s goal and two Aimee Mackin strikes helped Armagh lead 3-7 to 2-5 at the break only for Donegal to level the game after 45 minutes.

However, Fionnuala McKenna’s 54th-minute point secured Armagh’s win and Boyle Carr – who has been named to start on Sunday – admits Donegal have a score to settle having been left underwhelmed by their own performance.

“After last year’s Ulster final, we weren’t too happy with it,” added former Republic of Ireland soccer international Boyle Carr, who found time during a busy schedule to pass her driving test this week.

“It was a rainy day but that’s no excuse at the end of the day. On the day we weren’t as clued in as we usually are. We went down a good bit against them in the first half and struggled to get into it after that.

“But we’re prepared for this one and looking to get one back on them after last year.”

It could be a big week for Donegal football with the men’s team facing Derry in the Ulster Final on 28 May after the men’s and ladies sides beat Cavan in a Clones double bill earlier this month to reach their respective deciders.

The ladies semi-final served as the curtain-raiser to the men’s semi-final after Armagh’s win over Monaghan preceded the men’s quarter-final between Monaghan and Down with the opportunity taken by Ulster GAA to give more exposure to the increasingly popular ladies game.

And when asked about the gap between men’s and ladies football, Donegal boss Maxi Curran outlined his optimism about where the ladies game is heading.

“That’s definitely where you’re aspiring to get to, but we have to be realistic in every walk of life,” said Curran, who led his side to Ulster titles in 2018 and 2019.

“There are things that are higher up the tree than others and unfortunately women’s sport at all levels is probably lagging behind their male counterparts.

“I think ladies Gaelic football is probably as close to their male counterparts as any of the other sports are, we’re starting to get real good attendances at our matches.

“A couple of All-Ireland finals had over 50,000 at them. There are matches live on TV all the time and I’m not sure many other sports can say that, definitely not an indigenous sport like ours anyway.

“International soccer is maybe the only other sport that rivals us for attendance so that in itself is definitely helping to improve marketing the game. I think the big thing that’s got to come is the corporate sector, we’ve got to get behind the ladies game.

“There’s a community and social responsibility in every corporation and I don’t think it’s filtered its way down to ladies sport at the minute and I hope that will change.

“When that changes the professionalism will change and players will be properly looked after. It’s on a rising tide at the minute but that’s when it’ll really take off.”

The winners of this tie will join either Dublin or Meath in Group B of the All-Ireland series, which also contains Monaghan, while the provincial runners-up will go into Group D along with Cork or Kerry and Waterford.

Armagh boss Ronan Murphy makes two changes to the side that hammered Monaghan 5-21 to 0-5 in the semi-final with Catherine Marley named in the half-forward line and Niamh Marley, who hit 1-1 off the bench against Monaghan coming into the half-back line.

Aimee Mackin and captain Kelly Mallon, who combined for 4-7 against Monaghan, accompany Aoife McCoy in the full-forward line.

Curran, meanwhile, makes just one change from the win over Cavan with fit-again Karen Guthrie named in the full-forward line alongside Geraldine McLaughlin, who hit 1-10 in last year’s final.

Armagh: A Carr; S Grey, C McCambridge, C Towe; N Marley, L McConville, G Ferguson; B Mackin, C O’Hanlon; E Lavery, N Coleman, C Marley; A Mackin, A McCoy, K Mallon (capt).

donegal: R McCafferty; N Carr, E McGinley, T Kennedy; S Twohig, Nicole McLaughlin, A Boyle Carr; K Herron, Niamh McLaughlin (capt); Y Bonner, N Hegarty, S White; B McLaughlin, K Guthrie, G McLaughlin.

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