DREAM COMES TRUE FOR DEADLY DONARD

Wicklow People (West Edition) - - SPORT - BREN­DAN LAWRENCE at Dun­bur Park

DONARD-THE GLEN put a stop to Knockanann­a’s am­bi­tions of four Se­nior crowns in a row when they held on for a mag­i­cal vic­tory over their archri­vals in beau­ti­ful sun­shine in Dun­bur Park last Satur­day af­ter­noon.

It was a dra­matic and full-blooded bat­tle from start to fin­ish with Donard-The Glen’s sharper at­tack prov­ing a vi­tal dif­fer­ence over the course of the game in that they man­aged to build a con­sid­er­able lead which Knockanann­a’s late burst couldn’t reel in.

All over the field the DonardThe Glen side had play­ers who stepped up to the plate for what was a huge game in the con­text of their sea­son.

Los­ing three county fi­nals on the trot to Knockanann­a had cre­ated a hunger for re­venge and to re­claim the crown and in the last cham­pi­onship game against Tom Byrne’s side they had laid down a huge marker.

The ques­tions that re­mained af­ter that game were: Could Donardthe Glen re­peat that stun­ning per­for­mance in the county fi­nal on a dry sod and could Knockanann­a re­cover in time to put on a brave show­ing and pos­si­bly clinch the four-in-a-row.

When John Keenan sounded that fi­nal whis­tle to the roars and cheers of the Donard-the Glen faith­ful we had our an­swers, and, fun­nily enough, they were mostly in the af­fir­ma­tive.

Donard-the Glen did pro­duce a stun­ning per­for­mance but, also yes, Knockanann­a did re­cover and did take the game to the chal­lengers but, alas for them, could not get over the line in what has been some­thing of a dif­fi­cult year for the Car­low bor­der side in terms of loss of play­ers.

Donard-The Glen cap­tain Katie Daynes, who put in a mas­sive shift at full-back on the tal­ented Sarah Byrne, paid trib­ute to man­ager James Whe­lan from John­stown in Kilkenny for what he brought to the team this sea­son.

‘He just brought so much to the table,’ said a de­lighted Katie af­ter the fi­nal whis­tle. ‘He’s from Kilkenny, he played on the Kilkenny team, he’s played on teams, he’s coached teams. He brought dif­fer­ent things. We’ve al­ways had train­ers who live near us, who were with the club be­fore, so he brought some­thing re­ally dif­fer­ent. He had a strat­egy that we had never used, and it was to keep the ball in that half of the pitch away from the backs. And as long as we do it, it worked well,’ she added.

Katie says that the Donard-the Glen’s fit­ness was a mas­sive fac­tor in their clinch­ing of the county crown. Credit for that im­prove­ment goes to James Whe­lan as well.

‘He had this hor­ri­ble drill where we had to run fig­ure of eights for so many min­utes and that re­ally got our fit­ness up be­cause in the past our fit­ness lev­els was some­thing that brought us back a bit, and Knockanann­a, such fit play­ers, run­ning around the pitch, mid­field, catch­ing balls, fair dues to them. But this year the play­ers com­ing up and the fit­ness he gave us, he just brought us up so much.

‘We came out here will­ing to fight. One of the big things is that we found it hard to find our fire to get us to go. We had matches, not that the other teams aren’t good, but with the Avon­dale and Gle­nealy games, they’re not Knockanann­a, so for a while we didn’t have to push as hard to win. And that’s why even af­ter the other day in Knockanann­a he (James) was giv­ing out that we weren’t push­ing it, peo­ple weren’t mak­ing the runs, if the ball went by them, they were like, ‘oh it’s some­one else’s prob­lem’.

‘So re­ally the main thing to­day was to get ev­ery­one to want this. To make them know that we aren’t go­ing to walk into this and take the cup. We have to earn it. And that’s what he was giv­ing out to us about (at half-time).

‘Fair dues to Knockanann­a, they re­ally kept it go­ing, and that goal in the last three min­utes, that al­most shook us to the core,’ she added.

Katie says that los­ing the county fi­nals over the last three years re­ally hurt and that the play­ers felt they were let­ting down a proud tra­di­tion and that this year they were de­ter­mined more than ever to put a stop to that.

‘It means ab­so­lutely every­thing (to win). We’ve been fight­ing for this and ev­ery year we are like we have to get this back, we have to, be­cause Donard were this huge club of ab­so­lute pres­tige and in the last few years we’ve been let­ting them down. We felt that, ev­ery train­ing ses­sion, we were say­ing we are go­ing to be fac­ing Knockanann­a in this thing and we need to be aware that we are equals, ev­ery county fi­nal it’s barely a few points at the end, it’s never a big 10-point lead. It’s such small dif­fer­ence. We have to fight to the end. There’s no other choice,’ she said.

And the honour of cap­tain­ing this won­der­ful Donard-The Glen team is not lost on the team cap­tain who oozed class as she ac­cepted the cup.

‘It’s un­be­liev­able (to cap­tain the team). Ever since I joined the team in 2013, and I’d only been play­ing camo­gie for a few months, so ab­so­lutely in­sane. I re­mem­ber the first year I joined we won the league and in the pa­per it said ‘Katie Daynes, the youngest player, hold­ing the cup’ and Nora (O’Neill) was cap­tain at the time and hon­estly my hero, her and her sis­ter, Mary O’Neill, they made me want this. They have so much pas­sion for the sport, and they had a vote and I was named, and I just couldn’t be­lieve it,’ she said.

Donard-The Glen man­ager James Whe­lan from John­stown in Kilkenny said that the big thing for him was the get the play­ers past the de­feats in three fi­nals and play­ing to their huge po­ten­tial and that while they didn’t hit the heights in the county fi­nal they did enough to get over the line.

‘In all hon­esty the last three years re­ally weighted on the girls’ minds. The tough­est part for me re­ally was to come in...I didn’t re­ally care about the last three years, but to just try and get their minds right for to­day and I don’t think we did our­selves jus­tice in the first half, like ef­fort and stuff was there but we weren’t play­ing like I had seen them play. We con­ceded a soft early goal and at that point I could see some of the girls and I was ques­tion­ing the men­tal­ity and the pre­vi­ous three losses and all this stuff, and then we only had one chance, get in at half-time and try and re­group, against a strong wind in fair­ness, and a team that fought very hard, and they looked like they were out­play­ing us in big parts of it, to get the heads right at half-time and push on, and try im­ple­ment what we’ve been try­ing to do all year.

‘And luck­ily there near the end we got a good goal. When we were go­ing we got good move­ment and then a bit of nerves and the last few min­utes and we got the in­jury to the girl and they were un­set­tled but they just fought and they fought, they have plenty more in them abil­ity wise but the fight they showed there in the sec­ond half was phe­nom­e­nal.

‘You could tell from the line and the sup­port­ers how much ev­ery­body wanted it and it was just a mat­ter of - be­cause the play­ers would clearly want it twice as much – to bal­ance what they wanted and be­ing able to con­trol the game and get the last few points. And then they piled sav­age pres­sure

on us in the last few min­utes and as the in­jury time built up, we were ques­tion­ing was it ever go­ing to be over and they got it back to a point and we just held out. I was happy to hear the fi­nal whis­tle.

‘They fully de­served it. I’ve seen them all year and the abil­ity they have is phe­nom­e­nal and take the fi­nal aside and take the pres­sure of los­ing three in a row aside and if you get them out on the field and watch them play, they’re just bril­liant. But to cope with what they had in their heads and come out on top es­pe­cially af­ter the last 10 min­utes it’s a tes­ta­ment to them,’ he said.

And how has he found west Wick­low?

‘I love it. We had foot­ballers and two teams went well in the cham­pi­onship and we had a few in­juries and we just ques­tioned... there were days we turned up at 9am of a Sun­day morn­ing and you might have eight or nine play­ers and peo­ple look­ing around ques­tion­ing what are we do­ing here and run­ning the legs off them. I knew if they got it right, we’d have it. I don’t think we got it right to­day, but we done enough to get over the line,’ he added.

Knockanann­a got the dream start to this fi­nal when Loretta Mut­ton got her hurl to a high ball from Sarah Byrne to fin­ish to the back of Nora O’Neill’s net and the de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons fol­lowed this up with a pointed free from Kel­lie Byrne.

Knockanann­a were play­ing against the wind in that open­ing half and Donard-the Glen re­cov­ered very well to the early set­back and they started mak­ing in­roads into the lead.

Kelly O’Neill was look­ing sharp at full-for­ward, but she was hav­ing a tor­rid time from Knockanann­a’s ex­cel­lent full-back Claire Byrne, but she opened Donard-the Glen’s ac­count af­ter eight min­utes with a fine score af­ter a ball from the su­perb Lizzie Bro­phy be­fore adding a sec­ond mo­ments later.

Tom Byrne’s side wel­comed back Kel­lie Byrne at cen­tre for­ward and she cer­tainly gave them a ma­jor boost but Knockanann­a’s prob­lem was that they were find­ing it re­ally hard to get scores on the board af­ter their magic start.

Points from Sa­man­tha Mills and Katie Tyrrell brought James Whe­lan’s side level with Knockanann­a af­ter 17 but a Kel­lie Byrne free pushed the de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons back in front shortly af­ter­wards.

The chal­lengers would fin­ish the half su­perbly well, nothc­ing sin­gles from Emma Hay­den, Sa­man­tha Mills and Kelly O’Neill from a free to leave them 0-7 to 1-2 ahead with Nora O’Neill also sav­ing from the hurl of Sarah Byrne right at the death of the half.

Knockanann­a started brightly in the sec­ond. Kel­lie Byrne pulled them level and then Laura Ho­gan sent them ahead in the sev­enth minute as James Whe­lan in­tro­duced Daisie Sum­mer Cullen Dunne to the dray. Her im­pact on this game shoud be noted as she brougth an abra­sive en­ergy which the Knockanann­a de­fence found very hard to cope with.

The ex­cel­lent Sive Byrne lev­eled pro­ceed­ings af­ter 14 and Kelly O’Neill sent Donard-the Glen ahead af­ter 18 in this sav­agely tense tus­sle by the sea.

Knock­anana then fired three wides in what would be a cru­cial pe­riod in this game with the wind at their backs but credit the Donardthe Glen de­fence for the rav­en­ous ap­proach they were tak­ing to all com­ers.

Daisie Sum­mer Cullen Dunne set over an up­lift­ing score af­ter 23 but Kelly Byrne replied af­ter 27 and we were all square again.

And then Donard-the Glen found their feet. Kelly O’Neill from a 45 was fol­lowed by a goal from Sheila Whe­lan and this was fol­lowed by a point from aoife Grace and Donard-the Glen had one had on the cup with a 1-12 to 1-7 lead with time al­most up.

But Knockanann­a weren’t cham­pi­ons for noth­ing. Kel­lie Byrne from a free and the ex­cel­lent Aine O’Ke­effe with a late goal brought Knockanann­a to within one and while they had a late chance to level pro­ceed­ings the at­tempt flew wide and Donard-The Glen be­came the cham­pi­ons of Wick­low. And boy did they en­joy it!

Scor­ers – Donard-The Glen: Kelly O’Neill 0-5 (2f, 1 45), Sheila Whe­lan 1-0, Sa­man­tha Mills 0-2, Katie Tyrrell 0-1, Emma Hay­den 0-1, Sive Byrne 0-1, Daisie Sum­mer Cullen Dunne 0-1, Aoife Grace 0-1.

Knockanann­a: Kel­lie Byrne 0-7 (7f), Aine O’Ke­effe 1-0, Loretta Mut­ton 1-0, Laura Ho­gan 0-1.

DONARD-THE GLEN: Nora O’Neill; Jenny Tyrrell, Katie Daynes, Carmel Whe­lan; Chloe Dwyer, Lizzie Bro­phy, Casey Kelly; Sive Byrne, Roisin Toomey; Sa­man­tha Mills, Aoife Grace, Katie Tyrrell; Emma Hay­den, Kelly O’Neill, Sheila Whe­lan. Subs: Clair Whe­lan, Zena Carey, Daisie Sum­mer Cullen Dunne, Grace O’Neill, Aoife Bro­phy, Sophie Mills, Izzy Keenaghan, Mol­lie McCor­mack, Lil­lie May Cullen Dunne, Amy Bar­rett, Hol­lie Eve Cullen Dunne, Amy Switzer.

KNOCKANANN­A: Ma­cayla Mur­phy; Ni­amh Byrne, Claire byrne, Aoine O’Ke­effe; Dervla Byrne, Shan­nagh Goete­len, Eimer Mut­ton; Jessie Byrne, Laura Ho­gan; Aimee Ma­her, Kel­lie Byrne, Alice Mul­hall; Ni­amh Mut­ton, Sarah Byrne, Loretta Mut­ton. Subs: Jane Ke­hoe, Jodi Mur­phy, Siob­han Mul­hall, Erin Byrne, Emily Mad­den, Emily O’Reilly, Aine Byrne, Rachel Byrne, Eire­ann Moiules.

REF­EREE: John Keenan (Aughrim)

Donard-The Glen cel­e­brate win­ning the Wick­low Se­nior camo­gie ti­tle in Dun­bur Park last week­end. Wick­low County Camo­gie Chair­man Ivor Le­hane presents Donard-The Glen cap­tain Katie Daynes with the cup in Dun­bur Park. Katie Daynes lifts the cup as her col­leagues c

Donard-The Glen play­ers rush to em­brace their cap­tain Katie Daynes.

Savour­ing a won­der­ful and dra­matic vic­tory against their old en­emy, Knockanann­a.

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