Sweetest win yet for Lacken ladies
REACTION: Ladies SFC final
The break during lockdown helped the Lacken ladies as they came from off the pace to win their first Senior Championship title in six years, according to Player of the Match Joanne Moore.
The common consensus was that after a glorious run some years ago, Lacken were in decline but they upset the odds to topple champions Crosserlough in the final last Saturday.
“I think we definitely were underdogs, Crosserlough were the 2019 champions we had to give them respect, they were definitely favourites coming into it. I don’t think anybody was really looking at us all year or thinking that we might be contenders, we were tipping along there all year without anybody really talking about us at all and we were growing in confidence with every game, getting better and trying to work on our weaknesses every week and it just went well for us,” stated Moore.
“There was a good vibe and a good atmosphere around the panel this year and everything just went well for us I suppose.
“The lockdown gave us a bit of a chance to rest. For some of the older players, we weren’t playing all year, we weren’t training hard. A couple of us in with the county, we didn’t have those miles in the legs this year so I’d say the rest stood to us. We got time for a couple of injuries to clear up and we got a rest and got ready to go again.”
Lacken were 0-5 to 0-1 behind early on but rallied to win the remainder of the match by 0-15 to 0-5 in a dominant display.
“I was a little worried myself at the start, they were flying. They hit the ground running and I thought if they had kept that up for much longer, we’d be in trouble.
“But we got to the pace of the game and once we got into it… the first water break helped us a lot, we settled down and I think we kicked on from there really.”
The centre-back also paid credit to the management team of Sean Finnegan, Ollie Brady and Simon Fay.
“They are very calm. They let the game develop and give us advice at the water breaks and make changes then. Little tweaks here and there and it’s been working really well for us.”
Meanwhile, the experienced Rosie Crowe was overjoyed to pick up her sixth Senior Championship medal and first since 2014.
“It’s a great feeling, I worked hard to get back this year after having Thomas, then the Covid hit and I thought we wouldn’t be here. We all worked very hard, I’m delighted. The young players made a big difference.
“Lucy Crowe running through and her sister Aoife, brilliant, and Bonnie McKiernan there as well. The youth is brilliant, we have a lot of experience on our side but we do need that youth coming through for the next four or five years when all of us are retired.
“I think it was a combination of youth and experience, we worked well together and brought them into the game. They are not afraid to call for the ball, they’re very confident young girls. They’re mighty and it’s great to have them.”
Crowe forged a great partnership with Armagh native Marian McGuinness at midfield.
“Marian is brilliant, she’s a great footballer and she’s great at talking and she’s not afraid to speak her mind. Again, she’s as fit as a fiddle, up and down the field. If she tracked back, I went forward and vice versa. She got the first score I think and I got the last one so it was great for the two of us to get on the scoreboard.”
Coming into this season, Rosie felt that it could take a while for Lacken to turn things around.
“To be honest I did, I kind of thought it would take another few years to rebuild, especially last year when I was on the sideline watching because I was expecting, I thought looking in that it would take another two or three years but then when the young ones came in this year and a few of us got back fit, we did our own training through Covid, we got back on track.
“Coming through Ballinagh looking at all the signs and the flags in Lacken, we were just saying that. I think it’s much more appreciated this year when it took so long to get back. I really enjoyed this one now. I’ll go home now to Thomas and Mark, would have been nice if they had been here but they were the first thing I thought of when I came off the field.”
Winning captain Aisling McInerney, however, was of a different opinion.
“To be honest, I think the last few years we never thought we were far away, we always were in with a chance and we only ever lost by narrow margins to the eventual champions. I know it seems like a long time but we’ve been tipping away in the background. This year everything seemed to come together and here we are.
“We talked about it at the start of the game, how there would be a nervy first few minutes and we just needed to weather the storm and settle into it.
“After the first water break I think everyone started to feel they were in a game then and it just kind of turned around then.”
McInerney was unable to play due to an injury sustained in the first match of the year and found her watching brief “very difficult”.
“I have been unfortunate the last couple of years with injuries. Five minutes into this season I got a bad head collision and had to get a stint on my teeth. I was with a specialist this week and I was told that if I play, I could lose my teeth and otherwise I’d save them so I just kind of had to make that decision.
“I was physically fit to play and I think that’s what made it more difficult. But the girls make it easy for you, they fought for every ball there today and we came out on the right end of it thank God.
“We felt the support at home this week and today. I know they weren’t here today but they were here in spirit.
The girls were thinking about their family and friends when they were out there and used that to drive them on.”