Paddy’s army raring to go as they face Tyrone
REACHING the All- Ireland Intermediate semi- final for the second year in a row shows the calibre of Paddy Henry’s Sligo ladies and even though opponents Tyrone are dubbed favourites, the Tourlestrane man is not passing any heed. He has his charges ready for Saturday’s crunch decider and even during last Tuesday torrential storm, the Yeats county were out training for their test with the Northeners. Paddy told the Sligo Champion that with no injury worries after the quarter- final with Roscommon, the girls are raring to go. “We were back training on Tuesday in the IT, it wasn’t a good night to be out with the rain but we got the training done in between the showers and the thunder.
“We’ve no injuries, the girls were a bit stiff and tired from the Roscommon game, but apart from that sound as a bell.”
In terms of Tyrone, the manager said a lot of people are viewing them as favourites but they are not passing much heed. “I suppose most people are looking at them as favourites, with them being Senior last year and coming down this year.
“But, look it, it’s a two horse race and we are going to give it our best shot.
“We played Tyrone in the first round of the League up in Omagh back in January. it was up and down, they beat us by three points I think, which was a narrow margin. We had chances ourselves to win.
“It was a good learning curve. Our own team has changed a bit since then too,” he added.
Paddy explained that there’s three or four who are back from injury or have moved back to Sligo. “Katie Walsh who was teaching in England all of last year has got a position in Ireland and she’s back for good which is great.
“Katie’s been training the last five weeks with us. Emma Hansberry is back training too the last couple of weeks.
“She was with us before and is still with Wexford Youths. It’s good having those back as they bring experience too so we will see how we’re going.
“Mary- Ann Kennedy is over in the States now, she’s a great little footballer and we miss her from the panel but hopefully she’ll be back in the near future.”
Aside from the newer faces on the team, there is plenty of experience. “The backbone of our side goes from the likes of Noelle Gormley, Etna Flanagan, Stephanie O’Reilly, Jacqui Mulligan, Bernice Byrne, Sinead McTiernan, Ruth Goodwin, Elise Codd and many more. They have been around for years and their experience is serious. They know all about the game and they bring on the younger players too.
“So it’s all to play for on Saturday. We’re ready for Tyrone. Being there last year against Kildare and the match going to extra- time and then losing it in extra- time, because we were beaten with the last kick, the girls are itching to get back,” Paddy said.
He praised his players’ commitment and tenacity too. “They are a great bunch of girls and you can see that from last Tuesday evening, going out training in that weather, they never stopped.”
He said the excitement is very much building for Saturday. “There is a great mood in the camp. There has always been great banter between the girls.
“It’s been a phenomenal number of years, they have achieved a lot. This year, it was great to win two Connacht titles in a row.
“Last year as well was the first time to get past the quarter final since our Juniors did so in 2006, so that to was brilliant to get past that stage.
“Now we’ve done that again and are back in a semi- final so it’s fantastic,” Paddy added.
Sligo Manager Paddy Henry celebrates with Noelle Gromley, centre, and Ruth Goodwin