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McLaughlin on fire as Donegal clinch the Ulster title

By John Campbell

Donegal made history when they collected the Ulster ladies senior football championship title for the first time when they overcame Monaghan in a gripping decider at St Tiernach's Park, Clones yesterday.

The north-west side were full value for their 2-12 to 1-10 victory which was achieved through a fusion of a high work-rate, a stubborn defensive resolve for the most part and some clinical finishing from Geraldine McLaughlin and Yvonne McMonagle who between them bagged all their sides scores with McLaughlin grabbing 2-8 and McMonagle four points.

From the minute when McMonagle landed their opening point until they repelled Monaghan's last feisty raid in the dying moments, Donegal showed courage, commitment and resilience in abundance.

Naomh Hegarty, Naomh McLaughlin and skipper Katie Heron were other Donegal players who impressed.

An ecstatic Heron said: "We have learned from our games in the past and we just focussed on delivering a good performance. We knew we had this in us and it's a great boost for us to be now going into the All-Ireland series as Ulster champions.

"We did not get much praise from outside the camp in advance of this final but this made the girls even more determined to do well. Our management team have given massive effort to this team and we are very grateful to them but we have no intention of resting on our laurels, it is our intention to move on from here."

Fermanagh strode to an impressive victory over Antrim in the ladies provincial football championship final at Clones winning by 4-13 to 1-6.

Caroline Little showed the way for the Erne girls by scoring 3-7, with one of her goals coming from a penalty. In fact, she had netted all three by the early stages of the second-half.

The sides had been deadlocked at 1-3 each just shortly before the break with Claire Timony having netted for Antrim but from then on Fermanagh were in command.

They led by 2-5 to 1-4 at the break and with Little unstoppable, they emphasised their dominance as the match progressed.

Lynne McFrederick scored Fermanagh's fourth goal with Antrim not helped when two players were despatched to the sin bin.

Meanwhile, Armagh roared to an emphatic 3-22 to 3-7 victory over Laois in the preliminary round of the All-Ireland ladies football championship.

Inspired by skipper Caroline O'Hanlon and bolstered by the finishing skills of Aimee Mackin, Armagh were always in command having laid the basis for their victory in the first-half.

O'Hanlon scored two goals while Mackin grabbed 1-4 with Lauren McConville also hugely impressive in their attack.

There was more huge disappointment for Down who entered the All-Ireland series on the back of a mauling from Donegal in the Ulster Championship. On this occasion their conquerors were Cavan who ran out embarrassingly easy winners by 10-25 to 0-3 with Aisling Doonan landing 3-10.

The match was over as a contest at half-time by which stage Cavan led by 5-14 to 0-1.

Down have lost several established players recently and have encountered difficulty in plugging the gaps left by their absence.

  • There  was double delight for Donegal yesterday. As well as winning the Ulster Ladies senior football championship for the first time, the county also won the All-Ireland Under 21 Hurling 'C' Championship when they beat Tyrone at Celtic Park, Derry last night by 1-11 to 0-11.An Eddie Lynch goal proved central to Donegal's victory while Dwyer Marshall scored six points for Tyrone.

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