Biggest prize of all on the line as Kilkerrin-Clonberne take on Donaghmoyne

Donaghmoyne are five-time All-Ireland Senior champions and hunting a first title since 2016. Kilkerrin-Clonberne, meanwhile, are the holders and appearing in a third successive final on Saturday.
Biggest prize of all on the line as Kilkerrin-Clonberne take on Donaghmoyne

GOING AGAIN: Donaghmoyne captain Niamh Callan, left, and Kilkerrin-Clonberne captain Louise Ward. Pic: Ben McShane/Sportsfile

ULTIMATELY, it was a Nicola Ward brace of first-half goals that proved the difference between the two sides on their most recent meeting. 

It was back in mid-January when the All-Ireland club finalists last met in a competitive fixture – in the 2021 All-Ireland semi-final.

At the Clonberne Community pitch, Kilkerrin-Clonberne made home advantage count against Donaghmoyne, running out 2-8 to 0-8 winners.

Ward’s two first half goals helped to open up a 2-3 to 0-3 interval lead – and Kilkerrin-Clonberne would hold that six-point lead until the finish.

But what about Saturday? How will this 2022 decider pan out at Croke Park?

Donaghmoyne are five-time All-Ireland Senior champions and hunting a first title since 2016.

Kilkerrin-Clonberne, meanwhile, are the holders and appearing in a third successive final on Saturday.

Having suffered an agonising one-point defeat in the 2019 Final against Cork’s Mourneabbey at the TUS Gaelic Grounds in Limerick, Kilkerrin-Clonberne exacted sweet revenge last January to claim the coveted Dolores Tyrrell Memorial Cup.

It was a piece of silverware that Kilkerrin-Clonberne desperately craved and now that they have it in their possession, they won’t want to let go.

Going on recent form – as Kilkerrin-Clonberne landed the Galway title against before securing a fifth successive Connacht crown – that victory has had a liberating effect.

They’re playing with freedom and the manner of their All-Ireland semi-final victory over Waterford outfit Ballymacarbry was most clinical.

They were 1-5 to 0-0 clear at half-time and eventually ran out 14-point winners, with Galway star Ailish Morrissey collecting 1-3.

Right through the team, there’s inter-county experience, from the last line of defence, TG4 All Star nominated goalkeeper Lisa Murphy, to Morrissey, who wore the number 15 shirt in the semi-final.

The Wards, the Divillys, the Noones… the names trip off the tongue and this is very much a golden generation for Kilkerrin-Clonberne, who are anxious to capitalise on the talent at their disposal and create a dynasty.

Facing them are Donaghmoyne, a group of players with a never-say-die attitude and, much like their opponents, a very tight bond.

Donaghmoyne captured a 20th Monaghan crown before landing a fourth Ulster title on the trot (14th in total) – and perhaps one of their most satisfying after playing much of the game with 14 players.

St Ergnat’s, Moneyglass, were potentially dangerous opponents but Donaghmoyne managed this fixture well and followed up with an impressive dismantling of Dublin and Leinster champions Kilmacud Crokes in the All-Ireland semi-final, and on home soil.

Donaghmoyne, too, have players past and present who have worn the Monaghan county shirt with distinction. The four Courtney sisters in the starting line-up provide energy and drive, as do the precociously-talented Garland twins, Amy and Lauren.

In the forward line, Cathriona McConnell grabbed gossip and scoring headlines for her exploits last time out – playing on the day after she was married.

Donaghmoyne may feel there’s another fairytale story about to unfold for them at Croke Park – but they’ll have to overcome a side who had their number just ten months ago to win a sixth crown.

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