Belfast Telegraph

Get us to the match, sorry, we mean church on time!

By John Mulgrew and Declan Bogue

It was a decision two sisters never thought they would have to make — the football field or the chapel.

Geraldine and Nicole McLaughlin were given the unenviable choice of attending their sister Lorna’s wedding or joining their beloved Donegal ladies GAA side for an All-Ireland game against rivals Cork.

With both big events scheduled only minutes apart and efforts to delay the match unsuccessful, bridesmaid Geraldine (19) and Nicole (17) were forced to make one of the biggest decisions of their lives.

In the end, they put family first, choosing the chapel and helping to make their sister’s big day one to remember.

But with other Donegal players also attending the wedding, the game turned out to be a one-sided disaster.

“We tried to get the date for the match changed but that wasn’t possible,” said Geraldine.

The devoted sister knew at the start of last week about the clash but only found out about the decision to go ahead at the scheduled time later.

“We didn’t really want to make the choice. My sister was really leaving it up to me to decide on what to do,” she said.

“It was worth it though and it was really good craic.”

As Geraldine sat in her local church in their home village of Termon, the bad news about her team’s performance out on the field filtered through.

The Donegal men might have delivered one of the finest-ever performances last weekend in beating Cork to reach an All-Ireland final — but unfortunately for the Donegal ladies it was a different story.

They were demolished by their Cork rivals, finishing on the wrong side of a 8-27 to 0-2 scoreline.

“I was definitely thinking about the match during the day and then someone shouted up that we had lost when I was going up for communion,” said Geraldine.

“I was just so gutted — it was terrible.”

Donegal’s team manager Michael McNaughton said the side had asked the county board for a date change but had been unsuccessful.

“The Donegal county board asked for a date change once we knew about the wedding clash but it was turned down by the National Ladies Committee in Croke Park,” he added. “In fairness to Geraldine she said that only she’s a bridesmaid she would have played the game, such is her dedication.”


When big name stars are guilty of a sporting no-show, it never fails to make headlines. During his career with Manchester United, George Best failed to turned up for matches on several occasions. Footballer Gareth Bale also faced a backlash after withdrawing from the Team GB side at the London Olympics.

Snooker champion Ronnie O’Sullivan was just this week reprimanded for failing to show at a series of tournaments, while Antrim player Mark Allen was fined for no shows at five events. And in 1996, Estonia boycotted a World Cup qualifier against Scotland.

Belfast Telegraph

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