Lurgan captain Ciara Brady shares a moment with supporter Margo Keating after being presented with the Michelle Keating Cup. Photo: Adrian Donohoe.

Emotional end to ‘tough year’ for Lurgan ladies

Michelle Keating Cup.

Lurgan ladies went one step further than last year by getting their hands on the Michelle Keating Cup, named in honour of their former player, and while all finals are emotional, this was a particularly poignant occasion.

“This bunch of girls, there are a lot of personal things that have happened to them over the years, losing fathers and losing Leah Farrelly earlier in the year so… it’s for them,” stated Lurgan manager Emmet Daly after the game.

That sentiment was repeated by his captain, Ciara Brady.

“It was very emotional,” she said, “we had a very tough year there. I know everyone has had a couple of tough years with Covid but on our team, we’ve lost people close to our hearts, hence the extra emotion of the speech.”

For Daly, the success had yet to sink in.

“It’s unbelievable, a bit surreal. It just hasn’t hit home fully just yet but we’ll enjoy the few days and I’m sure it will hit me Wednesday or Thursday.

“Look, we knew it was going to be a battle, there were nerves and we didn’t start off great but we knew if we worked hard throughout the game that we’d get the victory. Full credit to Killygarry, they’re a fantastic team and I know we’ll be meeting them again at some stage.”

The game was in the melting pot at half-time; Lurgan had missed a lot of chances but knew they were still well in the hunt.

“Definitely, I told the girls at half-time that if we keep working hard, we’re going to come out with the victory. Any game we were leading at half-time this year, we haven’t lost it. I told them that and I told them to believe in themselves and they did.

“Fresh legs came on there towards the end when girls were cramping up and it just goes to show the effort that was put in. We’re happy, we got the monkey off our back after losing last year. Look, I’m happy, we’re all happy.

“These girls didn’t panic all year. If you go back through a lot of the games, we lost leads but we clawed them back. They believe in themselves and they’ve worked hard all year and all we do is put it into their heads that the fitness is there, the work is done and just keep to the game plan and plough away and things will happen. And look, they happened today and we’re very, very happy.”

For Brady, it was the culmination of a lot of hard work.

“Every year, we know how much it takes to get to the final. We’ve been here in the past, I’m probably one of the older girls on the team now and every time we get here I just know how much it takes.

“We fell short last year, we didn’t get lifting the cup and I just knew from that day, the pain that I was feeling, we just couldn’t let it happen again.

“We went a goal down and brought it back before half-time and managed to dig deep and bring it over the line again. I suppose it’s just the hard work, the dedication and commitment that this group of players have put in… it’s definitely not by chance that we’re here today and after lifting the cup,” she said.

This weekend, the focus turns back to men’s football. The Junior Championship final takes place on Saturday evening at 7pm (ref Paddy Clarke); the Intermediate Championship final is down for Sunday at 4pm (ref Jim Giblin). Full previews inside.