Confident ‘Cruppen eye county crown

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Friday, August 23rd, 2013
Community, Sport

Captain Caroline O’Hanlon has made Clann Eireann favourites but declared Carrickcruppen confident going into Sunday’s showdown in the final of the Mackin’s Senior Championship (Athletic Grounds, 5pm).

The Armagh great, who has captained Carrickcruppen since its inception and led them to a hat-trick of Junior, Intermediate and Senior county titles, is under no illusion about the strength of opposition the Lurgan club will provide.

“They have to be favourites with the track record they have, being county champions in five of the last six seasons, and they’ve any number of capable, experienced players but we’ve proved previously we can compete with them so we shouldn’t lack confidence,” she says.

The only occasion on which Clann Eireann haven’t been crowned champions since ending Crossmaglen’s previous reign was in 2010 when Carrickcruppen pulled off an historic success against the odds.

Since then, the teams have served up a couple of classic Championship clashes including the 2011 final, when an O’Hanlon hat-trick of goals wasn’t quite enough to retain the trophy for ‘Cruppen, and then in last year’s semi.

That night Carrickcruppen were eight points up when hit by a goal with the last kick of the first half and went on to lose the game. The hurt remains as a motivating factor and likewise the empowering memories of a positive performance, according to the skipper.

“That first half was probably our best performance ever so we can take confidence from that but there’s also massive motivation as a result of not finishing the job. We’ve great respect for Clann Eireann’s achievements but have a point to prove after feeling we’ve left it behind us those past couple of Championship matches against them.

“They’ve a formidable record but Carrickcruppen are a relatively new senior side whose aim is to keep improving. We can only look after ourselves, try to produce our best on the day and hope it’s good enough.”

There’s an understandable focus on the county contingent on both sides, and especially Clann Eireann’s experienced players, but the final is an opportunity for others to step up and O’Hanlon is enthusiastic about the maturing talent at her club.

She also believes that the recently recruited management team of Lorraine McCaffrey and Fionnuala McAtamney are having a positive effect and takes their willingness to come on board as a vote of confidence in Carrickcruppen.

“We’re absolutely delighted to get them and although a management team coming in mid-season doesn’t appear ideal, it was the perfect fit for both parties and although they may claim their arms were twisted I think they’re enjoying it!

“The fact they aren’t complete outsiders to Armagh has helped them settle in quickly – so we’re in the happy position of having that quality coming in with a fresh eye but good knowledge of our players and also our opponents in the final.

“It has been a good six weeks and the fact that the time is short has enabled the intensity to be sustained. They’re showing great commitment and the girls have really responded so hopefully everyone gets their reward next Sunday.

“The management are excellent, with very tough training and a bit of psychology thrown in so we should be well prepared in every way and have a bit of a fresh feel coming into the final. Everyone’s really looking forward to the challenge,” Caroline enthuses.


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