Cavan minors ladies’ season throws in with Armagh test

Ladies football news

Aideen Coyle

The Ulster ladies underage season throws in on Saturday with the opening round of the Ulster Minor Championship. Cavan are once again in tier one of the competition paired alongside Saturday’s opposition Armagh, Antrim, Tyrone, Donegal and Monaghan. For the past decade, Cavan have been a dominant force in Ulster at juvenile level, winning regular Ulster titles at all underage grades.

Last season they managed to pick up an Ulster minor gold title after narrow losses to Tyrone and Monaghan knocked them out of the running for the Platinum final. This season Cavan will be looking to right the wrongs of last season with a 34-strong panel made up of 16 clubs around the county selected by the Cavan management team led by Crosserlough man Gerry Charters.

The newly appointed Charters has been involved with many ladies teams down through the years and most recently managed Cavan U16s to an Ulster platinum title in 2022.

“I’m back more wiser and older as I would say for 2024. It's great to be back at the helm of this. They’re a great group of girls, they’re just brilliant! Most of them have All Ireland medals at some level in their back pocket so they're teaching me more than anything else,” Charters said.

When asked about selecting his panel of players to represent Cavan for the campaign ahead Charters noted just how difficult a task it was for him and his management team, Charters said: “It was so hard. We were cutting girls who would make any county team in Ireland, it was really that hard.

“We spent I think four hours one night trying to get down to 34 and it was just impossible. It was one of the hardest jobs we've ever had to do at this level. I've been involved with minor teams for a good few year’s but this probably was the hardest year now.”

The squad of players selected have plenty of skill, talent and experience in a Cavan jersey despite their young age. Many of last seasons minor panel remain including to name a few Ellie Brady, Sinead Kelly, Emma Tolan, Sarah Clarke whilst 13 players from last year’s U16 All Ireland winning squad including team captain Katie Mai Reilly make the move up to minor level, hoping to replicate the success on the national stage once again.

When asked if the success of the U16’s puts pressure on the team’s shoulders Charters replied very simply “success breeds success”.

“We talked to them last Sunday morning and asked them to give us five things that they wanted for the season ahead. One of the things they wanted was to win an All-Ireland. The bar they are setting for themselves is so high.

“The management thought yes get to an Ulster final and win an Ulster final but they came out with that. Of course an Ulster final is great but an All-Ireland is what they are aiming for so they were setting the bar themselves’ he added.

The squad kick off their championship with a game away to Armagh this Saturday and the Breffni ladies have been busy in recent weeks training and playing challenge matches against opposition such as Westmeath and Mayo in preparation for the Orchard county.

“Look, preparations have went well. I suppose we were trying with Loreto in an Ulster final and the Lurgan girls in an Ulster final as well to mind girls. We really had very little time for trials, we only had a couple of weeks of trials mostly over the Christmas period.

“But look, they’re a great bunch of girls and they’re just mad to go and hit the ground running.’

Saturday 2pm in Armagh is the first obstacle for the side who are willing and ready to hit the ground running.

“The girls are ready to push on, they’re setting the bar and want to win it there's no qualms about it,” the manager said.

“Even tonight during this challenge match from the word go they were pushing they wanted to get scores and wanted to go and win it.

“But look Armagh are obviously going to want to win it as well.

“They'll be strong and will be hard beaten but look we should be able to take them. If you have any aspirations of winning an Ulster final you have to win and get up the steps on the ladder from the start.”

Cavan Minor panel 2024: Lauren Miney (Arva/Killeshandra), Alex Peters, Ellie Brady, Ruby Gilmartin (Ballyhaise), Cait Reilly, Alannah McPhillips, Kayla Bartley (Butlersbridge), Katie O’Meara, Sarah Clarke (Cavan Gaels), Bronagh Tully (Cornafean), Niamh Smith (Crosserlough), Danielle McGovern (Drumlane), Abbey McDermott, Ailbhe Kennedy (Killygarry), Mia Lynch, Aoife McCabe (Kingscourt), Ella Sheridan (Killinkere), Katie-Mai Reilly (Knockbride), Katie Tierney (Lavey), Kristina Grigorenko, Sinead Kelly, Emma Tolan, Cora McDonnell, Carragh Reilly Brady, Katie Noble (Lurgan), Aoibhinn Galligan, Kate Fegan (Mullahoran), Blanaid Smith, Hannah McPhillips, Holly McPhillips (Shercock), Muireann Daly (St. Finbarrs)