Tennyson misses out on St Paul's quest for glory
Instead of participating in St Paul's final training session today ahead of Saturday's All-Ireland Ladies' Club Intermediate Football final against Offaly and Leinster champions Naomh Ciaran, Saoirse Tennyson will be entering hospital for surgery on a cruciate ligament injury.
In a year in which the Antrim captain has learned how to cope with contrasting emotions, the heartbreak of missing out on her club's biggest match of the year has impacted on a player who has been an inspirational force at both club and county level.
It was in the spring that Antrim came up short in their bid to gain promotion from Division Four of the Lidl National Football League, but comfort was on the horizon when Tennyson led them to victory over Derry in the Ulster Junior Championship final.
There was a further setback when they lost to Fermanagh in the All-Ireland Junior semi-final, and now Tennyson's hopes of gaining a measure of consolation for this by playing in Saturday's game have now been shattered.
Manager Brian Coyle believes that his team are now even more determined to rise to the occasion and bring home the trophy to one of the club's most popular and dedicated players.
"While it is just brilliant for our club to be going into an All-Ireland final, we have had to shoulder our setbacks along the way," revealed a frustrated Coyle.
"Saoirse showed in captaining Antrim this year how influential she can be.
"Unfortunately the cruciate ligament injury which she sustained recently will keep her out for some time.
"We have had one or two other wee niggly things, but nothing like the heartbreak that Saoirse has suffered. We all fear for her, of course."
On the plus side, the McGuinness sisters, Kirsty and Caitlin, have been hitting the high spots in terms of their scoring returns, while captain Aine Tubridy is leading by splendid example and Mairead Cooper's experience and finishing skills underpin the team's attacking axis.
Manager Coyle, whose daughter Donna, along with Damien Duffy and Don Burns, a brother of Crusaders defender Billy Joe Burns, comprise his backroom team, is adamant that his side is capable of giving "the big performance" it will take to ensure they take the trophy home.
Naomh Ciaran have shown in winning the Offaly and Leinster Championships that they are a strong, forceful side imbued with pace and scoring power up front.
But St Paul's boss Coyle believes that his side can rise to the occasion.
"I honestly feel there is a big performance in the team because of their attitude, commitment and pride in what they do," insisted Coyle.
"The effort and dedication they show has to be seen at first hand to be believed."