THE celebrations went on for some time last February, but Donegal must do it all over again when they begin the defence of their IIBA Women’s Inter-zone title at the weekend.
They had good reason to pop the bubbly.
Not only did they roar to a famous 67-36 win over hot favourites Armagh at Drumragh Bowls Club, but incredibly it was their first success after five attemps! They at last had their hands on the McElroy Cup.
Donegal will now put their trophy on the line at Edengrove, Ballynahinch, on Saturday when they face Mid Down.
“Amazingly, this will only be the third time in the last 20 years that the teams have met in the ladies competition,” said Donegal’s Fred Aicken.
“In 1995 we only progressed after a hard fought 54-54 draw, but in 2004, we enjoyed a comfortable win.
“However, that means nothing. Mid Down have the home advantage on this occasion – and they will be determined to topple the title holders.
“In these early matches, it all depends which team settles the quicker.”
Fred admits it going to take a mammoth effort to repeat last year’s success.
“We were written off in quite a few games on the way to the final,” he adds.
“And, quite naturally Armagh were big favourites to win the tournament for the seventh time.
“They actually beat us quite easily the previous year. The victory was the pinnacle of 20 years of hard work.
“In fact, we actually celebrated a double success because we also won the Junior Inter-zone title, also for the first time, beating the fancied Oriel in the final.
“It was a special occasion for me personally as it was my 20th year as zone convenor. But it’s now all history. We must start it all over again.”
FULL STORY IN FRIDAY’S NEWS LETTER