Yesterday in Parnell Park, the Kilamona woman lifted the Dolores Tyrell Memorial Cup for a second time with the Monaghan champions, scoring a point to boot in the northerners’ three-point win over Mourneabbey of Cork.
It’s the woodwork teacher’s third senior All-Ireland final since 2012, and after the 2013 loss to Carnacon of Mayo, Lafferty and her teammates weren’t going to make the same mistake twice.
“I’ve seen both sides of winning and losing now, but the hunger to come back and make amends was just too strong. A lot of the girls just live for football up there, and to have won again is a massive achievement for us,” said the former Clare camogie player, who this season lined out for the Farney County in midfield alongside Donaghmoyne captain Eileen McElroy.
Coming into yesterday’s final, Lafferty and her teammates didn’t hide the fact that they were bidding to regain the All-Ireland in memory of their former club chairman, Martin Daly, who passed away earlier in the summer.
“No doubt Martin’s up there now smiling down on us. We made a mess of things in 2013, but by God we weren’t going to slip up this time. This one’s for you Martin!” declared McElroy in her acceptance speech, as Mourneabbey players heartbreakingly watched on for the second season running.
Had they won the Dolores Tyrell Memorial Cup yesterday, they’d have become the first club to have won a junior, intermediate and senior All-Ireland title, but Donaghmoyne’s ability to hold on, despite being two players down in the closing stages, was crucial.
So too was the performance of player of the match, goalkeeper Linda Martin, who denied Mourneabbey three goals with an impressive repertoire of stunning saves.
At half-time, however, it was Shane Ronayne’s side who led by a point (0-5 to 0-4), just as they had led 12 months earlier against Termon of Donegal. But, only raising three green flags to Donaghamoyne’s seven in the second-half wasn’t good enough.
Francie Coleman’s side applied serious pressure on Mourneabbey’s kickouts in the third quarter, but points from Doireann O’Sullivan, Bríd O’Sullivan and Síle O’Callaghan had kept them in it. But, with 40 minutes gone, two sublime points from the left boot of freetaker Caitriona McConnell, gave Donaghamoyne the impetus to drive on.
The game intensified, as did the physicality, and on the 48th minute referee Colm McManus sent Mourneabbey defender Emma Coakley to the sin-bin.
Doireann O’Sullivan, however, put the Cork champions back in front again, before Sandra McConnell pointed to equalise (0-8 apiece), but it was the heroics of Martin between the posts with eight minutes remaining in denying Laura Fitzgerald a goal, which saw Donaghamoyne shift into fifth gear.
They too would suffer at the hands of the sin-bin ruling, with sisters Joanne and Sharon Courtney given their marching orders just three minutes apart, but full-back Hazel Kingham produced two points to give Donaghmoyne a three-point lead, while Mourneabbey failed to register a vital goal in the dying minutes to draw parity and to some extent make amends for last year’s defeat.
For Mourneabbey coach, Shane Ronayne, words were hard to come by to articulate the hurt his players were feeling in the aftermath in the dressing room.
“We’re devastated. We’d three great goal chances that were denied by three great saves, and that was the difference on the day. I felt we went into our shell a bit in the second-half and became too defensive, but Donaghmoyne defended incredibly well and kept some of our big names quiet.
“We’re heartbroken really. The time and effort, and hours down in the field, out in the cold, that goes into trying to get back to an All-Ireland final, I can’t even bare thinking about it. You’d wonder is it worth it sometimes. It’s just so heartbreaking. But, the girls gave it their all, and I can’t fault them one bit.”
C McConnell 0-5f, H Kingham, S McConnell and R Courtney 0-2 each.
D O’Sullivan 0-4 (2f), B O’Sullivan 0-2, C O’Sullivan and S O’Callaghan 0-1 each.
L Martin; F Courtney, H Kingham, N Lynch; J Geoghegan, S Courtney, J Courtney; E McElroy, A Casey; C McConnell, C Courtney, F Lafferty; S McConnell, N Callan, R Courtney. Subs: G Comiskey for Lynch (40), R Finnegan for S McConnell (60).
M O’Sullivan; E Coakley, CA Stack, A O’Sullivan; K Healy, R O’Sullivan, N O’Sullivan; M O’Callaghan, C O’Sullivan; S O’Callaghan, B O’Sullivan, E Meaney; E Harrington, L Fitzgerald, D O’Sullivan. Sub: S Conroy for K Healy (35).
C McManus (Meath).