[b]Long Wait is over for Ann Marie Cox and Leitrim[/b]

All of 18 years have passed since Leitrim were last in an All Ireland decider. On that day in 1988 they defeated London and still very prominent are both Maeve Quinn and team captain Ann Marie Cox in today?s side.

For Annaduff star Cox, it was a special day but as the years passed the dream was fading of a similar day out ” I thought we would never get back as the years went by, it got tougher and tougher, the standard increased. Ladies football has grown bigger and bigger with live TV and media coverage as a whole. The difference now compared to then is unbelievable and the football is so much more fashionable ”

The 2006 year began for the Ulster bank official and her side in disappointing fashion against their final opponents Sligo ” we opened our championship with defeat to Sligo, we stuck with them for a long time but conceded two quick goals and a few sin bins either way changed the game. A week after loosing that game we lost out in the league final by a point with a goal in the dying seconds. That left the side really in a make or break situation but thankfully we recovered and came back to win the Connacht final which was wonderful for us. The side showed great character after both those defeats ”

With the Connacht title in the bag the side seen off Limerick and set up a meeting with neighbours Longford and as Leitrim captain admits the semi-final was a key game for her side ” no disrespect to Limerick but we did not play well that day. We had a lot to prove against Longford and we went out and showed what we can do. Our second half performance was great but we needed to prove it and there was a lot of pressure on us ”

Like any side getting ready for the trip to Croke Park, the county begins to take notice ” there is buzz now around the county, flags appearing where you would never see them before. It was wonderful to see the support we had against Longford, our family and friends are really coming out and it is great to see ”

So what about near neighbours Sligo, a team the Leitrim captain and her fellow players were very much behind twelve months ago ” Sligo and ourselves would be rivals as such but when they went on the last two years we were behind them and wishing them luck.

They are a fantastic side with strength all over the team. Katrina (Connolly) is a very good keeper and with Stephanie O?Reilly back is a bonus to them, Noelle Gormley is another player that can take scores and they are strong at midfield and Angela Doohan is a great player ”

It is busy times for the corner forward as she not only plays but is also chairperson of her club. Cox also went onto state the pride and honour it is to be captain

” it?s a great honour and it hasn?t sunk in yet that I?ll be running out onto Croke Park with a Leitrim jersey on. The management have been drilling it into us we are not just going up to play but to win ”

[b]Angela Doohan hoping it is third time lucky[/b]

On Sunday October 1st, Sligo will be running out in Croke Park for the third successive year hoping its third time lucky. Leading the girls in black onto the famous field will be Angela Doohan who has tasted the good and bad in her ten years with the county.

At the beginning of the year this was their aim and after a bumpy ride they are back where they want to be. The St Nathy?s girl would rather look forward then back but believes the Connacht final defeat was their wake up call ” at this stage its time to look forward and not back but we wanted to win the Connacht title but that defeat was the wake up call we needed ”

Of course that defeat was at the hands of Leitrim who they will face in the All Ireland decider. It also seen a new management team come into place ” our management team changed after the Leitrim defeat, but our new guys have settled in very well and we have worked very hard since to get things right. We bounced back to defeat both Wexford and Clare but had to or we knew we would be out. The Clare game was very tough and we had to work very hard to the end, but the girls showed great hunger ”

And so it is neighbours Leitrim once again, and as the Credit Union employee states this will be the third meeting of the year ” been Leitrim I am sure it will add a little bit more spice to it, both teams know each other inside out at this stage. We are level with a win a piece, we beat them in the opening round of the championship but they came back to beat us in the final so it going to be very tough ”

The 27-year-old left wing half forward pin pointed her opponents strengths ” they are very strong up the middle and a very good midfield. Players like Ann Marie Cox in the forwards and Sinead Brennan in defence are experienced ”

Having lost out to both Kildare and Armagh over the last two years at the same stage a lot of people thought it would be very difficult to come back but not team captain Doohan ” every player dreams of playing in Croke park and you want to get there. You always want to get back and we have been at the wrong end in the last two years so this time we want to go up and have a taste of the other side as winners ”

As captain it is extra special ” to lead your county out onto Croke Park is something special and its great to have the opportunity and we are ready and looking forward to the game ”

The question is can Angela Doohan become the girl to finally take the title back to Sligo after the bitter disappointment of loosing the last two finals. The Sligo captain was quick to point out we?ll know after 3pm on that given Sunday.

 

 

28-Sep-06 by Patricia Bohan