Courtney sisters together all the way on Donaghmoyne’s long road back to Croke Park

Five sisters line out for Monaghan champions in first women’s senior club football final to be played at HQ

The Courtney sisters will meet up at the home place on Saturday morning, for old habits die hard when you’ve spent a lifetime kicking ball together.

Joanne is living in Kilkenny these days. Fiona is in Trim. Sharon lives out the road in Castleblaney. Cora and Rosemary are at home.

Donaghmoyne will participate in the first All-Ireland women’s senior club football final to be played at Croke Park.

But there will be no wild panicking or fussing in the Courtney homestead this morning, the tea will be brewing on the stove, the gear-bags will be packed well in advance, and the girls will be easy in each other’s company the way only sisters and teammates can be.


When the time comes to leave, the quintet will squeeze together in the one car, and head down the road to meet the rest of the squad for the journey to Dublin. The simple act of sharing a car for that spin from the house, it has come to matter. Onwards to battle, together.

“I’m five minutes from home but I always go home before games and we travel together,” says Sharon. “We’re always in the one car going from the house. It’s just something that has happened over the years.”

Joanne is the eldest of the bunch, followed by Fiona, Sharon, Cora and Rosemary.

Sharon made her debut with the Donaghmoyne seniors at just 13 years of age. She’s 35 now and in October she was part of a team that won a bewildering 20th consecutive Monaghan SFC title.

The former Monaghan captain was there for all 20, as were Linda Martin, Joanne Geoghegan and Hazel Kingham.

Others were there too from the outset in 2003 but life doesn’t stand still for two decades – Joanne and Fiona Courtney missed a few when they went travelling, Amanda Casey because she had kids, normal stuff happening away from the pitch while Donaghmoyne continued carving out extraordinary success on it.

They have won five All-Ireland senior club titles. Their first final appearance was in 2005, losing to Ballyboden St Enda’s.

Sharon was only 18, but at the time it felt as if the club had missed their one and only shot to lasso an All-Ireland.

“On the pitch afterwards people were saying, ‘hard luck, sure you’ll get here again.’ But I couldn’t help but wonder if we actually would,” recalls Sharon.

They did. And exorcised a few demons. The following November Donaghmoyne beat Ballyboden at the semi-final stages, a game that was played in the Dublin club’s home pitch in Firhouse.

“That was the moment we knew we were able to mix it with the big teams, that win gave us huge confidence,” recalls Sharon.

They beat Carnacon 1-11 to 0-13 in the final, a game remembered as a shootout between Cathriona ‘Teeny’ McConnell (1-9) and Cora Staunton (0-10).

Donaghmoyne have since added All-Ireland titles in 2009, 2012, 2015 and 2016. Their haul of five leaves them as the third most successful club in the women’s game after Ballymacarbry (10) and Carnacon (6).

Teeny was back in the headlines for their semi-final win over Kilmacud Crokes last month. She got married the day before but took a helicopter from the Slieve Russell to the pitch on the morning of the match.

She scored 0-7 and spent the days afterwards being asked about it everywhere from Ireland AM to Newstalk. It was all very Posh & Becks. But could Becks do it on a wintry Sunday in Donaghmoyne? Could he hell.

“There was never any doubt Teeny would play,” says Sharon. “But at the same time we owed it to her to make sure she had a good day at her wedding. It was important we did that.”

They will face reigning champions Kilkerrin-Clonberne in this weekend’s final. The Galway outfit beat Donaghmoyne in the semi-final last year.

For many of the Donaghmoyne players it will be their first time playing at Croke Park but Sharon, Teeny, Linda, Cora and Amanda lost three All-Ireland finals there with Monaghan.

As for the 20 consecutive county championships, well there is many a shoe box and biscuit tin around the parish stuffed with medals. Some of the more recent medals came in presentation bags but Sharon can’t be certain she even pried them open for a look before dropping them in with the others.

Because, ultimately, today is the one they have been chasing down.

“We hadn’t been able to get over that semi-final hurdle for a few years. We’re conscious we are on the road a long time, hopefully we can just cap it off now with a win at Croke Park.”

There’s always room for another medal in the shoe box. All-Ireland Ladies SFC club final: Donaghmoyne (Monaghan) v Kilkerrin-Clonberne (Galway), Croke Park, 5pm (Live on TG4)

Gordon Manning

Gordon Manning

Gordon Manning is a sports journalist, specialising in Gaelic games, with The Irish Times