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Eglish girls aiming to eclipse class of 1991

By Declan Bogue

The tiny Tyrone village of Eglish may be famous for the late, lamented Red Hands captain Cormac McAnallen, but there has always been a rich camogie tradition in the area that will come alive this Sunday when they take to the Croke Park pitch against Myshall of Carlow in the All-Ireland Intermediate final.

While the football wing of the club play in black and white colours, the lampposts and election posters have been drowned by the green and black flags of the camogie team in recent weeks as the community gets behind the sportswomen.

They have reached this stage before, in 1991. Quite incredibly, they have two members of that defeat to Galway's Mullagh still playing; goalkeeper Leona Gallagher and back Brenda Horsfield.

Their current captain Ciara McGready wasn't even born back then, but was raised on stories and old photographs of that team by her father, Finbarr, and the raft of her cousins that played at that time.

She revealed: "A lot of the girls on the team now would have had mothers on the 1991 team! Everybody has a connection to that team. I always heard my dad talking about that team and how far they got."

Eglish successfully defended their Ulster camogie title last year and went one better than the All-Ireland semi-final exit to Galway's Eyrecourt when they overcame Gailltir of Waterford in Ashbourne.

"This year, we knew we had done the hard work. We just went out to give it our all and it was very tight. But the girls have worked so hard and it paid off," said McGready.

Playing their camogie in the Derry leagues has tempered them in considerable heat and they finished runners-up this year only to Slaughtneil and Swatragh.

"It's good to get that sort of action under your belt," explained McGready.

The centre-half back spoke of the effort that has gone into getting them to this stage.

"We have trained so hard and the girls have given up so much, sacrificed so much and we are not going to leave it there," she stated.

Pushed on their level of sacrifice, she explained: "Not being able to go on holidays and trips because you have training, and there is so much competition that if you miss it, you could be dropped.

"People get work changed and also have to ask to swap shifts. We have a lot of nurses on the team and they are on placement. Having to get their work changed is a big issue.

"Even mothers having to get somebody to mind their children all the time so that they can make training."

The All-Ireland final throws in at 1.30pm on Sunday.

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