Tyrone Ladies hopeful of 2011 National Football League breakthrough

2010 was an excellent year for Tyrone Ladies, who even exceeding their own expectations , reached the All Ireland senior final against Dublin , whilst Omagh St Enda’s did the County proud by winning not only the Ulster Junior Club title but also reaching that epic Tesco Junior All Ireland Club final, narrowly losing to Caltra Cuans in the replay at Mullahoran, after a drawn first encounter.

New Tyrone ladies manager Martina Dillon has not had the best of starts to her reign in the senior manager’s hot seat, bad weather shortly after her and Rory McCann’s appointment, prevented full blown trials. Commitments to university and club football prevented several players being involved and in the only competitive fixture played in the Dowd Cup, Monaghan hit 5-27 with no reply.

That fixture was a stark wake up call to the Aodh Rua stalwart – granted she was minus some 19 players but she did get a chance to see what was available to her in terms of the squad – it was a heavy loss but there were some positives too.

Dillon has been boosted by the re introduction of several key personnel and some new faces, several players who enjoyed Ulster success with Dillon in her tenure as minor manager, will get the call too as Tyrone begin a difficult league campaign, games against Galway, Donegal, Laois , Kildare, Cork and Mayo all to come.

The 2010 league campaign proved to be very difficult for Tyrone under the previous Colton – Donnelly Management partnership, they struggled throughout and only held on to division one status by the skin of their teeth. The Summer though provided a tremendous fillip to ladies football in the county and Dillon is keen to build on that all Ireland run.

“ The league campaign has come quickly for us, we will have to face the reality of playing some very tough opposition week in week out and yes it will be a learning curve, we will have patience and the players we have in this squad will deliver,”

Based on their performances in the Junior Championships in 2010 including the Tesco All Ireland final games against Caltra, one would expect several of the young Omagh St Enda’s team to be ‘ knocking at the door’ for inclusion in Martina Dillon’s Tyrone squad. During the long Junior campaign, for example, no one impressed more than versatile defender Christiane Hunter, twice Player of the Match in October, and also a Netball player of note.

For Hunter and several of her team mates it has been a very long season . St Endas minors started in January last year and by the time that the Junior final replay took place eight players had been involved for the full twelve months, for others it’s been a full eighteen months between club and colleges, so burn out issues ahead of the final and a brimming diary of club, Dowd cup and inter county football action was very much on Manager Vinny McCullagh -and the players – minds just then.

For many months now we have heard the GAA and various media commentators talk at length about and debate as to whether or not there should be a seasonal break for players, though predominantly these discussions have centred around the men’s game particularly in the Under 21 and Senior championships.

Spare a thought then for the Omagh St Enda’s girls many of whom like Christiane Hunter are also at College or University and having to cope with their studies as well as football. That said I am sure that none of the Omagh side would have missed a moment of that great adventure.


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