‘Support our girls in Dublin’ – Armagh greats ahead of All Ireland Final
By Richard Bullick
Armagh great Jarlath Burns and ladies legend Bronagh O’Donnell have joined the Lord Mayor of Armagh, Sharon Haughey, in urging fans from the Orchard County to make the trip to Dublin for Sunday’s All Ireland intermediate final.
Crossmaglen woman O’Donnell captained Armagh on their two previous visits to Croke Park, including lifting the Junior All Ireland trophy seven seasons ago before the one point defeat against Cork in the 2006 senior final.
Now living and working in Dublin where she is captain of last year’s Leinster’s senior club champions Na Fianna, O’Donnell naturally continues to takes a keen interest in Armagh’s fortunes even though it is over four years since she wore the orange jersey.
“I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t love another run out in Croke Park but I’m so delighted for the girls involved – a good number of whom I’ve played with – and I’m backing them to play well on Sunday and bring the trophy home to Armagh,” says the former All Star.
“I was at their match against Waterford in July when Armagh won well and having also watched the impressive performance against Longford in the semi-final on television there’s no doubt in my mind that Armagh can do the job.
“I’ll be there shouting them on and would encourage as many Armagh people as possible to come down and get behind the team on what will be a proud day for players and management.”
A hugely influential figure in the GAA and respected pundit, Burns is supportive of ladies football and indeed managed the Ireland team for the one-off International Rules series against Australia in 2006, a few weeks after Armagh’s last appearance at Croke Park.
His team included not only O’Donnell but the star player in the current Armagh team, Carrickcruppen Caroline O’Hanlon, while the return of Mairead Tennyson to the county panel gives Burns’ club, Silverbridge, a presence in Sunday’s showpiece.
Burns has used his column in this week’s Gaelic Life newspaper to promote ladies finals day and describes the female footballers as “the true amateur heroes of the GAA” and the growth of ladies football as “the biggest sporting phenomenon that has occurred in gaelic games in this era.”
“It promises to be a great day and totally fitting that it should be held in Croke Park. I hope that there is a big crowd there. The girls deserve a little more credit and support than they have been getting as they continue to embody the undiluted spirit of the amateur ideal.
“And in a barren year for Armagh, an All Ireland title would be a nice finish to the year. No-one in Ireland would deserve more to receive a cup on the steps of the Hogan Stand than our captain Mags McAlinden.”
Meanwhile, Lord Mayor Haughey, an ardent Armagh gael who works for the GAA, will be attending the match in her official capacity as the ancient cathedral city’s First Citizen.
“It’s great to have Armagh ladies back at Croke Park for an All Ireland final – this is a very talented young side and the whole county will be behind them,” says the Granemore woman.
“I’d appeal to all Armagh gaels to show their support for the girls by making the trip to Croker. I wish the team and management every success and look forward to being there, hopefully to witness another All Ireland title coming to the Orchard County.”
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