Championship medal No. 4 for Emma just eight weeks after new baby but little Cara has seen it all before!
After all, this county championship stuff happens to mummy every year, doesn’t it?
Little Cara was only four months old in 2020 when Steelstown bridged the three year gap back to their first senior crown in 2017. Since then the Doherty-Crudden clan has grown with the arrival of baby Orlaith only eight weeks ago but Cara is still yet to see her remarkable mother lose a Derry championship encounter. It is a phenomenal record and if consistency is the hallmark of great teams, this Steelstown side have earned their place in club and county history but Emma stresses such success does not happen by accident and paid tribute to the Brian Ogs management set-up.
“It is remarkable but it comes from the consistency within our own set-up,” explained the 2017 All Ireland Junior Players’ Player of the Year who was picking up a fourth Derry county winners’ medal, “The same boys have been there the whole time driving us on. They have added Jeff (Garrett) into the mix this year but I think the consistency we have had with the management, developing a style of play has really helped us get here today.
“You never get used to days like this. You still get the same nerves before the match and stuff. If anything the experience is actually even better this year. A lot of girls have overcome big injuries and things, even me, getting back playing after having my wee girl. Just to be back out on the pitch was a win for me but to top it with another championship is brilliant. At this age you appreciate days like this even more because you know there may not be many more.”
“Absolutely it was a bit of a shock start,” adds Emma, “We started slowly from the throw-in and were a bit shell shocked but we regrouped well. I think that was the only score they got in the first half, we took over a bit and there was a really strong wind there. We defended really well throughout, we shut off the ‘D’ very well and closed it all down. Ballymaguigan found it very difficult to get through. It worked really well but it all comes down to communication, talking to each other to organise who is where. I thought we defended really well as a unit.”
Victory means another shot at the Ulster Intermediate crown and a home date with the Antrim champions on October 16th. It’s an opportunity to put last November’s heart-breaking injury time defeat against Kinawly to bed once and for all, though Doherty knows there are no easy games at provincial level.
“The disappointment of last year’s Ulster final, I mean we were going down there thinking we were in with a really good chance of winning it and to be so far up in the game and then for Kinawly to come back and snatch it in the last minute, it was gutting.
“The best thing for us was to get back together as a group, get back training and try to make it right by coming back here today and doing this. Hopefully now we can progress again in Ulster and see where it takes us. Here’s hoping we can get it a good run. You are always going to come up against strong teams from the other counties in Ulster but if we stayed focused and continue to train hard, then we are definitely in with a shout.”