Niamh Carr eager to maintain Donegal's progress
By Cian O’Connell
These are encouraging times for Donegal’s Ladies Footballers, who contest another Ulster Final against Armagh at St Tiernach’s Park on Sunday afternoon.
Niamh Carr is enjoying the productive spell with Donegal, who have made significant progress under Maxi Curran’s stewardship during the past 18 months.
Emerging as a serious team Donegal are beginning to believe with Carr delighted with Curran’s impact in the north west.
“With Maxi coming in last year it was great,” Carr admits. “With him being involved with the Donegal men previously, the expertise and professionalism he actually brings to a team is second to none. He knows so much about the game, his tactical awareness and know how, I suppose, to make sure we are as ready as possible for the challenge ahead.
“Having someone like him there to even talk to you before a match is brilliant. It is great to have him involved, he really has brought Donegal Ladies to the next level. We are delighted to have him onboard.”
Carr accepts that the belief and expectation is increasing in Donegal which provides a clear sign that progress is being made.
“Definitely, people are talking about us going for a third Ulster title in a row,” Carr says. “That is progress on its own. This year we got to a League semi-final which was great.
“Last year obviously getting to an All Ireland semi-final was great as well, so we are going in the right direction. Hopefully we can come out the right side of the result on Sunday because another Ulster title would be great for us. Ulster is always huge to get through.”
All Ireland champions Dublin are a formidable outfit, Cork demonstrated their ability in the League, while Galway are also viewed as a panel with real potential. Donegal, though, have ambitions of their own and to be involved in that discussion is a source of optimism.
“Of course it is great, the two League semi-finals this year were the four provincial winners from last year,” Carr remarks about Donegal’s emergence.
“I suppose it just shows we are up there with the best and it is great to be competing with them. Obviously Dublin have won the last two All Irelands and are an amazing outfit, Cork aren't that far behind, the same with Galway. It is great to be up there in the top four or five in the country. We are just trying to stay up there to try to compete with the best.”
What has struck Carr most of all, though, in recent years is how Ladies Football is improving across the county. “It definitely is getting stronger,” Carr replies. “We have had different county winners in the Senior Championship at club level, who have gone on to do really well in Ulster.
“A lot of them players are playing at inter-county level. Donegal football is on the rise, we have a lot of young players in our team. The minor county team this year got to the Ulster final, unfortunately they lost that by a small margin, but it shows there is youth. People want to play.
“That is great for the county. We have a lot of youth on our senior team, hopefully we can keep them around. With a good mix of youth and experience in the team hopefully we can continue to progress.”