What a difference a year makes for St. Helen’s ladies. Last year the club situated in Drumlish/Ballinamuck suffered the heartbreak of losing another county final when they lost the Junior title decider to Mostrim after a replay. This year they are preparing for the biggest game in the club’s history; the Leinster Junior Club Football Championship Final against Kildare opponents Monasterevin at the Kinnegad GAA grounds on Sunday next (throw-in 1pm).
Speaking to the Leader, St. Helen’s captain Orla Noonan is amazed at how much the team have come on in the last 12 months. She said, “The girls have come on so much in a year. It has made a difference. We lost three finals before we won the county Junior title this year and the girls have improved so much. Winning is a habit. We have started a winning run and hopefully we can keep it going.”
St. Helen’s have been impressive this season. The majority of the side are young but they have shown a maturity this year. “It’s an extra year playing together,” said Noonan. “The lads (the team management of Ken Leonard, Stephen Cosgrave, Cian Brady and Joe Leonard) are with us again for another year too. It’s just confidence. The year has brought on the girls so much. A lot of the young girls have no fear and all they know is winning. It’s great to have that. There is also a never-say-die attitude in this squad.”
Orla admitted that some of the players used their past experience in the provincial championship to help them this year; they knew not to repeat the same mistakes: “When we last won the County Junior Championship we went up to Tallaght to play in the first round of Leinster, I remember that game still, and we got beaten off the field. Some of us who were there that year know that if you get into Leinster it’s a great opportunity. Back then it was a novelty because it was our first time in Leinster. Now it’s not and we are going for it and hopefully we can go all the way.”
Kildare side Monasterevin provide the opposition in the final. Although St. Helen’s will gather information on their opponents, key forward Noonan admitted that the main thing is getting their own game right for the big day: “The lads always have a bit of research done on the other teams. We have found out what we could about them but at the end of the day we will look at our own game and keep pushing on ourselves.”
Throughout the Leinster campaign St. Helen’s have had great support from both their local area and the rest of Longford. Noonan is delighted that they had the chance to proudly represent both club and county: “It’s great to do it for the club and it’s great to see the rest of the county behind us. I would like to thank everyone who have come out and supported us so far. Hopefully everyone will get behind us again for the Leinster Final. All the county girls I have played with this year and other people have been sending us messages of support and it’s great to see. It’s great to do it for them too.”
On the path to the provincial final, St. Helen’s have beaten Dreadnots (Louth), Blessington (Wicklow) and Naomh Ciaran (Offaly) in seeking Leinster success and it will be a great achievement if they can capture the title on Sunday in the curtain-raiser to the other Ladies Leinster Club Final between Thomas Davis (Dublin) and Milltown (Westmeath) who will battle it out for the honour of winning the Intermediate Championship.