People in Focus: St. Macartan’s Ladies GAA Football captain, Cathy Donnelly

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St. Macartan’s Ladies football club have undoubtedly been a dominant force in the sport in Tyrone since the club’s inception back in the early nineties and this weekend will again see the Clogher Valley club go in search of another County Senior Championship title.

The club will be contesting their twelfth Senior final on Saturday evening and bidding for an eighth title win in all, having also captured the honours twelve months ago. The Donnelly name has been synonymous with the team in recent times and this weekend will be led out onto the field of play by team captain, Cathy Donnelly, who will bid to join an elite band of players to successfully hold aloft the Jarlath Kerr Memorial Cup.

You can catch the match Live on Teamtalkmag Live Online Radio on Saturday – CLICK HERE

Tyrone Life caught up with Cathy Donnelly this week as we bring you the latest in our People in Focus Profiles

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Donnelly girls celebrate with the Jarlath Kerr Cup following the club’s Senior Championship success in 2014 – (L to R): Paula, Cathy, Lynda, Joline and Maria

PEOPLE in FOCUS Q&A with Cathy Donnelly, St. Macartan’s

Ladies Football honours:
St Macartans: 4 Senior Championships, 5 Senior Leagues, 1 U18 and U16 League.
Tyrone: 2 Senior Ulster Championships, 1 U16 & U18 Ulster Championship, 3 Interprovincials, All star 2010, team of the league 2011.
St Ciaran’s College: U16 Ulster
UUJ: O’Connor Cup, O Connor Shield, All Ireland League, College all star and 3 Ulster college all stars.

When did you start playing football:
With the St Macartans U12s back a few years ago.

Tyrone Life – My thoughts on…

Tell us a bit about your community, your club and where you grew up?

My cousin Lynda introduced me to football and to St Macartan’s Ladies. We couldn’t go for a visit without being dragged out from the envious toy McDonalds Café to play football on the lawn or in the same field as the horse! I have to admit there were teething problems and a few weekends where I was “too sick” to be outside but it wasn’t long until I was hooked.

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On a night out with the st. Macartan’s girls at “the place to be” on a night out in Tyrone, Sally’s

Can you tell us about the places in Tyrone which you feel would stand out for anyone visiting the county and which would be well worth going to see?

Hard to beat the lovely Clogher Valley.

Knockmany Forest and if you make it to the top well worth the view.

Lumfords Glen is in here too, pity it has been neglected- would be a tourist attraction in Kerry/Leitrim.

St Patricks Chair and Well – bring back “Heather Sunday”

Tell us about your working life, what you do?

I studied Environmental Health at Jordanstown. Currently working as Health & Safety Manager in Acheson and Glover, based in Fivemiletown.

GAA Life – My thoughts on…

The GAA plays a huge role in family and community life in Ireland. What are the significant GAA memories with your club or county that really stand out?

The most significant win for me would be the Tyrone Senior League win in 2006 when we beat Carrickmore by a point in the final. The club hadn’t won a senior title since the Championship win in 1998 and our last league win had been eleven years earlier in 1995, so for most of us the 2006 league win was our first taste of senior success after so many years of disappointments and losing finals.

The outstanding moments were in recent years. Winning a first senior championship in 2009, a first for the club in eleven years. Going on to win the “double” that year and setting the platform for three in a row! Unbelievable feeling and treasured memories.

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The St. Macartan’s Ladies team will go in search of an 8th Tyrone Senior Championship title this weekend

Can you tell us a bit about the St. Macartan’s ladies team and your playing colleagues:

There are some great characters on the St Macartan’s team. The Club Watsapp group is never short of a dull moment!

  • Marb’s (Chloe) keeps us all entertained with her updates.
  • Interesting reading with it coming up to school formal time, with Slaine in a panic to find a date.
  • We have the highly competitive McGirrs and the McQueens who come packed with all the essentials most importantly the lippy and ghd’s.
  • The Kelly girls have really taken their wedding vows seriously and ensure they are never apart from their husbands, even Damien O Hagan has chipped in this year!
  • Can’t speak highly enough of my friends at St Macs – a very hardworking bunch with their kindness really shining over this past year.

What are your thoughts looking ahead to the county final?

I am really looking forward to the final and playing the neighbours makes it all the more interesting! Ourselves and Errigal Ciaran would know each other very well with our U16s and minor girls challenging for honours this past few years and a lot of girls having played alongside each other at St Ciaran’s College and for Tyrone.

At the minute Errigal probably have a slight edge having played two extra Championship games. Unfortunately Omagh pulled out of the Championship and Kileeshil didn’t field in the league meaning it is now well over a month since our last game. We have had a few good trainings though and the men will have us well prepared. Errigal have some top forwards with Maria Canavan and Shannon Monaghan in great scoring form. We will just have to do our best to try and outscore them at the other end!

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There remains considerable potential within the Tyrone senior team ranks despite a disappointing season in 2015

How do you think Tyrone stand at inter-county level and what needs to be done to see Tyrone challenging strong again for an All Ireland title?

Tyrone have definitely underachieved and we are now on the back of another disappointing season. After successful seasons in 2009 and 2010, not enough was done at both administrative and playing level to ensure this was built on.

I’m sure there won’t be a rush to fill the recently vacated management position but this should be sorted within the next few weeks to ensure that the 2016 team has time to prepare ahead of the National League.

There is talent in Tyrone! A lot of good work has been done in the clubs and schools with Ulster and All Ireland titles coming to both St Ciaran’s and Omagh in recent years. If the County team could get the full commitment of the best players there is no reason why Tyrone can’t challenge at the top level.

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Cathy Donnelly in action for Tyrone in this year’s Ulster senior championship tie against Cavan

Can you tell us, from watching Tyrone ladies and mens teams over the years, tell us three players whom you looked up to and who really stood out for you (and why) in the Tyrone Ladies teams and Mens teams?

LADIES:

  • Lisa McGirr – Top class mid-fielder. First St Macartan’s and Tyrone Ladies Player to lift the O’Harte Cup.
  • Bronagh Holland – Made full forward look easy
  • Maura Kelly – Could play anywhere but the best full back ever to wear a Tyrone Jersey.

CLICK HERE to see our previous PEOPLE in FOCUS profile with Maura Kelly

MENS:

  • Peter Canavan – No explanation needed!
  • Brian Dooher – Inspiring work-rate and leadership
  • Ryan McMenamin – We had to support Ricey under Maura’s orders. “he’s really a civil fella when you meet him” a common phrase used.

Can you tell us, from watching St. Macartan’s ladies teams over the years, tell us three players whom you looked up to and who really stood out for you (and why) in the St. Macartan’s Ladies teams?

There have been some great St Macartan’s players over the years and many who have had an influence through taking underage teams and lifting trophys. I always had great admiration for the 90’s girls including the Hollands, McElroys, McGinns and McGirrs as they were the ones with all the medals. I wanted to be able to kick points like Bronagh Holland and the ball just seemed to stick to her hands in full forward.

CathyDonnelly20YearsCelebrationStMacartans

Celebrating with St. Macartan’s colleagues, past and present, at a Gala 20th Anniversary night Celebration

Social Life – My thoughts on…

Tell us about what things you enjoy best about the ‘weekend’ and favourite things to do?

Love heading out for something to eat and even better when it can be followed by a night out.

Tell us about 3 big sporting moments that stand out for you and why?

  1. St Macartans winning the Championship in 2009
  2. Tyrone winning their first All Ireland in 2003
  3. Michelle Smith winning the 1996 Olympic medals – controversial but I remember us all standing around the TV in the kitchen cheering her like mad, as if we were mad swimming fans 🙂
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A night out in Spy Nightclub with the girls…

Tell us best best places to go for a night out (why?) in (a) Tyrone (b) anywhere in Ireland?

In Tyrone Sally’s is the place for a night out and outside of that Shiftys/Spy in Monaghan. Galway and Kilkenny have a great nightlife and atmosphere – I don’t think BP would want to do that run in one night though.

Could you tell us what places you have travelled to (anywhere in the world) – and best memories & places that rally stood out?

I always wanted to see New York. We travelled there in 2011 and it definitely met expectations. We went Skiing in Andorra last winter which was another brilliant experience. I have also been very fortunate to travel to both Dubai and Toronto on the Ladies Football All-star tours. It was great to get the opportunity and two trips of a lifetime. Thankfully I got to share the Dubai experience with Maura and Toronto with Joline.

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On the Ladies All-Star trip in Toronto in 2012

For fun…

3 Funniest People You know & why:

Joline Donnelly and Maizey McKenna can always keep the craic going. Catriona McGahan always kept us entertained when travelling to National League games.

Tell us your favourite Joke?

Any of Ciara Monaghans excuses for missing training – hopefully her boots make it through security on the way back to college!!

Tyrone Life Spitting Image – Name 2 people who you’ve always thought were ‘spitting image doubles’:

St Mac’s Keeper Niamh McKenna and Olympic boxer Katie Taylor

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Favourite “Laugh out Loud” funny Scene from a Movie:

Bridesmaids the scene where they go for the dress fittings after a dodgy feed the night before. It will be water only for Lynda, Joline, Maria and Paula!!

My life & favourites…

Gaelic Footballers (Mens and Ladies): With the weekend that’s in it the St Macartans Ladies and Errigal’s Peter Canavan!

Band/Singer(s): Sharon Shannon, The High Kings

TV Show(s): I don’t have a favourite but we are usually subjected to whatever Maria is watching.

Movie(s): Again no favourite – just look forward to Friday evenings to see what rom-com Stephen & Joline have picked!

Item of clothing: Tracksuit

Perfume: D&G light blue

Food: Dinner in Andy’s Monaghan

Place (apart from home): Top of Knockmany!!

Pub: Dessy’s

Nightclub: Spy

Sports Venue: Fr Hackett Park

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat? Why? Probably Twitter for the news and score updates

Favourite Facebook or Twitter Page(s)? Give the Club a follow @st_macs

Inspirational Quote you like?

“Ta me ar mhuin na muice”

Not very inspirational but I like to pick up a word our two from the gaeligors in our house and this is my favourite (“I am on the Pig’s Back”) – I hope I am using it on Saturday evening!

CathyDonnellyLadiesAllstar2007

Cathy Donnelly was an all-star corner forward on the Teamtalkmag Tyrone Ladies All-Star Football team of 2007.

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