Tyrone ladies senior football side will compete in this year’s Ulster and All Ireland intermediate football championship after successfully being regraded at last weeks Ladies GFA central Council meeting. The move is another step in what has been described as the rebuilding of the ladies senior team in the county who have by their own admission have struggled since missing out on an all Ireland senior title in 2010.
In the draw meanwhile for the Ulster championship made on Tuesday night, the newly graded Tyrone will open their campaign against Fermanagh on May 28th , the winners through to the final on July 3rd with the losers facing Down in a second semi-final on June 18th. Fermanagh are managed by Tyrone pair Paddy Fox and Mal Coyle and like Tyrone the Erne girls are going through somehwhat of a rebuilding process.
County officials, after full agreement from the county took the regrading request to headquarters with the support of the current squad and management, the focus very much on affording this young side a chance of evolving as a unit . Armagh, Donegal, Down and most recently Kildare all benefited from dropping out of the senior grade for a spell, the Ulster teams have returned to the top tier indeed with Donegal winning a first Ulster senior title last year.
This current Tyrone squad has one player over the age of 26 and have an average age of just 21-22, in recent years they have just about clung to league division one status while in the five years since losing that all Ireland decider to Dublin in 2010 the statistics make grim reading, winning just six games in seventeen championship outings , losing two Ulster finals heavily and failing to capture an Ulster senior title since 2009.
Three outings so far in the league have produced heavy defeats for a new look and youthful Tyrone but there have been positives in games against experienced Armagh, Cork and Galway sides, a dozen players have made senior debuts and over thirty players are now available to manager Gerry Moane. The league campaign, however it turns out will allow the team to develop ahead of a championship campaign more suited perhaps to a new look squad.
This move to intermediate status puts Tyrone with the likes of Limerick, Wicklow, London and indeed Kildare down the line. There is of course no guarantee of silverware but as this team will gain experience and as manager Moane says “evolve together” they will potentially bring Tyrone back to the top table as real challengers again.
Tyrone return to league duty against fellow Ulster rivals Monaghan on Sunday and welcome back several players including new goalkeeper Laura Kane who was outstanding against Armagh before being withdrawn through injury, Emma Smith and Emma Collins are also due to return to the squad after missing the loss to Galway.By Paddy Tue 23rd Feb