The two neighbouring Monaghan clubs gunning for All-Ireland final spots at the exact same time

Latton are in the intermediate semi-final later today, while Corduff are in the last four of the junior competition.

THEY’RE LESS THAN a 20 minute drive from one another, but two All-Ireland semi-finals will be throwing in at the same time at neighbouring clubs in Monaghan later today.

lattoncorduff Latton and Corduff are contesting the All-Ireland intermediate and junior semi-finals. Source: Ulster Ladies Gaelic.

In the intermediate tie, Latton O’Rahilly host Meath and Leinster champions Dunboyne while Corduff welcome Dublin outfit Cuala in the junior clash (both throw-in 1pm).

The two Monaghan sides are no strangers to each other as it is, having met several times themselves through the years including in last year’s junior county semi-final.

‘Friendly rivalry,’ some may say.

While all focus will be on getting their own job done and booking their All-Ireland final spot, they’ll be hoping that their fellow Farney representatives can fly the flag too.

After all, many of the players would have gone to school together and played on the same teams through the ranks while there.

Joanne Culleton was Latton’s hero in the All-Ireland quarter-final, bagging a late goal to ensure her side’s incredible rise keeps going.

The 22-year-old spent much of her teenage years at St Louis Secondary School in Carrickmacross, where Corduff’s Laura McEnaney was also a student.

Although McEnaney was two years to her senior, they played on the same teams, winning Ulster titles and other silverware together.

In 2011, McEnaney led the U20 side to the All-Ireland senior C final, but they were narrowly defeated after extra-time by Loretto, Clonmel.

Six years later, she again finds herself leading troops into an important battle, and this time it’s her club bidding for a coveted All-Ireland junior final spot.

Laura McEnaney

Sinead Finnegan with Laura McEnaney McEnaney in action for Monaghan. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

It’s been a long journey back to the top for Corduff.

Rewind to 2009. The glory days, as many have said. It’s eight years ago now but they found themselves at this exact stage of the same competition.

But it was heartbreak at the penultiamte hurdle as Cork side Clonakility booked their place in the All-Ireland junior final.

The following year, they made the leap up to intermediate, and struggled. That was a trend that continued every year since. Until this year.

“We hadn’t won a championship match since 2009 so it’s been a long wait of eight years,” McEnaney tells The42.

“Every year since ’09, we had a drop off of girls. We struggled year in year out with numbers. However this Corduff team has been building since last year.

“We had a good league campaign last year where we got to the final. I think the team realised we could go a step further this year and try and win the Monaghan Championship.

“We have completely exceeded our expectations!”

After beating Scotstown in the county final back in August, a testing Ulster championship ensued before they met Cavan opponents Cornafaen in the decider.

That one came right down to the wire but the celebrations that followed on the final whistle showed exactly how much it meant to be Ulster kingpins once again.

“It meant the world to us,” she continues. “Especially in the way it happened.

“To win after extra time showed great character in the team. I’ve played with some of the girls from U10s so it makes it that bit more special.

Source: Jerome Quinn/YouTube

“My sister Sarah plays too, so it’s been great to be able to share the special days with her over the past couple of months.”

With her father, former Monaghan and Wexford boss Seamus ‘Banty’ McEnaney, part of the management team, next on the agenda was a trip across the water to London and opposition came in the form of Kingdom Kerry Gaels.

“London was amazing from start to finish,” she smiles, when asked about the experience.

“We were under no illusions that London had a serious outfit with some exceptional ex-county players so we knew we faced a massive task especially after a six day turnaround from the Ulster final.

“Girls looked after themselves really well that week using ice baths, physios, oxygen chambers, you name it so we could be recovered in 6 days.

“We had massive support over there and for the people that didn’t get to travel, the match was streamed live in the local pub in Corduff which was great.”

There’ll be no need to stream today’s clash for the locals though, with the action taking place on their doorstep.

Well aware that it’ll be no easy task, McEnaney is relishing the Cuala challenge.

“Yeah I do believe Cuala will be our toughest challenge to date. They are a young, extremely pacy team, with many county players from U16 up to seniors.

“Having home advantage is great, we’re used to the Corduff grounds and it will also encourage more Corduff people to come out and watch the match.

“We’re all enjoying the build up to the game and looking forward to the challenge ahead.”

And how special would it be to reach the final?

“It would be such a massive achievement for a small club like Corduff.

“There are a few of us that played in the All-Ireland club semi-final in ’09 so to go one step further this year and reach an All-Ireland club final would be a dream come true.”

Loretto, Clonmel, Co. Tipperary v St Louis, Carrickmacross, Co. Monaghan - Tesco All Ireland Ladies Football Post Primary Senior C Championship Final McEnaney (11) and Culleton (25) before the 2011 All-Ireland schools final. Source: Paul Mohan/SPORTSFILE

Joanne Culleton

The last two years have been somewhat of a whirlwind for Latton. And here they are, back in an All-Ireland semi-final– but up a grade 12 months later.

It took a replay last year to separate themselves and the eventual All-Ireland junior champions St Maur’s. An incredible year may have ended in heartbreak, but they weren’t lying down.

The year after many sides win a championship and progress to a higher grade is usually a bleak one. As aforementioned, after Corduff moved up to the Monaghan intermediate championship in 2010, they struggled and struggled.

But this wasn’t the case for Latton.

“To win Ulster last year was incredible but to win it again this year at a higher grade has just been unbelievable, I can’t even begin to describe it,” Culleton reflects.

“Back-to-back championship winners has got a nice ring to it and it’s a remarkable achievement for the club. I suppose the winning momentum has been carried through from the success of last year into this year.

“To be honest we’ve taken each game as it comes this year and it has worked well so far. We haven’t had a chance to think about what we’ve achieved so far, all our games have come in quick succession.

“Winning Monaghan was a shock for us, at the start of the year we struggled to get management but with Gerry, Deirdre and Jackie stepping up they kept the team together and they took Stephen and Jody on board to train us, which put life in the team!

“Getting out of Monaghan was a huge success as Latton had never won a intermediate game before, but to go on an win Ulster and get to All-Ireland semi-final stages has been something else for the club.”

It may have been a slight surprise but this innate belief and sense of camaraderie between this tight-knit group has bolstered them.

“The LLs (Latton Ladies) are a very close group,” she continues. “It’s a small, close-knit parish so there’s quite a few sisters and cousins on the team which definitely does help.

Screen Shot 2017-11-18 at 16.08.42 Source: Latton Ladies GFC Facebook.

“I play alongside my sister (Eimile) and we can give each other stick without any insult taken. It’s the only place really where family can give each other stick and get away with it,” she grins.

“What happens on the field stays on the field!”

What’s been different this year and last year that brought so much success compared to previous years though?

“There’s been a lot of hard work put into the club over the last few years and to have came so close so many times and to have fallen short at the last hurdle, I suppose the hurt and disappointment has driven us further.

“Last year, we had a few older girls on the team and their experience and determination drove us onto pushing ourselves that bit further. This year, we’ve a very young team but we’ve learnt good techniques from the great players before us.

“So many people have put so much hard work into this team and it’s great that we can start to see the rewards.”

A few short weeks ago, like Corduff, their All-Ireland quarter-final was played across the water. They packed their bags and headed for Liverpool to face a strong John Mitchell’s side.

Latton won it late on, and Culleton struck the final blow. Her modesty shines through as she credits her sister for playing the ball in, and she was just ‘fortunate enough’ to be on the end of it.

“To win the game in the last few minutes of the game shows the heart and desire the girls have, it’s all about teamwork and pulling each other on when the tough gets going.

“Full credit has to be given to the supporters who travelled to Liverpool that weekend to support the LLs on the journey. Seeing so many supporters who travelled that far is just unbelievable for such a small club.”

The support won’t have just as far to travel this time around, with their semi-final against Dunboyne today, of course being decided on home soil.

Interestingly, Dunboyne beat Latton’s 2016 conquerors St Maur’s to the Leinster intermediate title, and the Meath champions were crowned junior champions themselves as recently as 2015.

Culleton concedes she knows very little about their opponents, but is truly relishing the challenge.

“I’m sure Dunboyne are a decent side and we wouldn’t expect anything else from them,” she continues.

Source: Jerome Quinn/YouTube

“Any team to make it to this stage of the competition is going to be a good team and we’re expecting a tough game.

“Preparations are in full swing, everyone’s in great form and there’s a great buzz about the team. The mini LLs are out in their club colours and making posters and banners for team to show their support.

“There’s a great buzz about the community. Everyone’s talking about the big day, with the ladies playing first and then men play in the league semi-final after us. We’re all looking forward to it hopefully we go and do the business!”

And here they find themselves at the same stage as they reached last year. The best four teams in the country in their grade, the last four standing at intermediate level.

Last year, it was absolute heartbreak. Round one, round two, and then extra-time. So, so close but yet so far. But now they have the chance to right the wrongs, to finally put that hurt to bed and reach that coveted All-Ireland final, and hopefully the Holy Grail.

“Ah stop,” Culleton concludes, when asked how much it would mean.

“Any loss is a tough loss but to lose an All-Ireland semi-final ON your home pitch after a replay and extra time is tough to take. To be so close but yet so far.

“I suppose the heartbreak and hurt has driven us to push on this year and to given us the hunger to try get one step further this year.

“To win it (semi-final) this year would be something else but to win it on your home pitch would be just unreal, I couldn’t even put into words how I would feel about reaching an All-Ireland final.

“There’s not to many club players that can say they played in a club All-Ireland final and I hope after our performances on Sunday, we will be playing in one.”

The42 has just published its first book, Behind The Lines, a collection of some of the year’s best sports stories. Pick up your copy in Eason’s, or order it here today (€10):

From ‘terrible hidings’ to All-Ireland contenders, Fox-Cab look to reach the Holy Grail

Five-time All-Ireland club winner takes the reins as Monaghan senior manager

About the author:

Emma Duffy

Read next:


This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
write a comment

    Leave a commentcancel