TERMON ARE URGING A BIG crowd to converge at the Burn Road on Sunday when the club’s senior women’s side begin their Ulster Championship crusade with an opening round tie against St Paul’s of Antrim (throw-in 2pm).
Termon went on to win the All-Ireland title last year in a fairytale campaign that concluded when they defeated Mourneabbey 3-12 to 1-13 in Tuam.
Having retained their Donegal crown with a 4-13 to 1-11 final win over old foes Glenfin, Francie Friel’s team are back on the provincial path this weekend again.
The game will be Termon’s first Ulster or All-Ireland series game at The Burn Road since a heartbreaking 2-12 to 2-9 loss to Inch Rovers of Cork in the 2010 All-Ireland semi-final.
Back then, Termon were the upstarts. Now, they’ve Ulster and All-Ireland titles to defend and are regarded again as one of the leading contenders.
“We’ve everything to lose and they’ve everything to gain,” as Geraldine McLaughlin – scorer of 25-35 during their magical run towards capturing the Dolores Tyrell Memorial Cup in 2014 – puts it.
“We want the Cups back and we’ll fight as hard as anyone to get them.”
Termon hope to get a big support on Sunday.
Friel is back as manager this year with trusted lieutenants Trevor Alcorn and Paul McDaid again by his side.
By and large, it’s ‘as you were’ as regards the personnel involved, although Sharon McLaughlin has decided to take a year out, while the likes of Sonia Connaghan, Andrea Murray, Maeve McDaid and Emily O’Flynn have been elevated up from the underage ranks.
Bar a knee injury that has Dara Kelly in the doubtful bracket for the weekend, Friel hopes to have a full panel at his disposal.
“Dara jarred the knee in the Donegal final and I don’t think she’ll make it this weekend,” the Termon manager says.
“It’s nothing too serious, but this weekend will probably be too soon for her.”
Friel’s squad is scattered in all corners.
When his team assemble for training on Friday night, Olive McCafferty will have flown in from Glasgow, while Nicole McLaughlin has to make her way from Tipperary, with Shannon McGroddy coming home from Dublin and Emer Gallagher back from Galway.
On Saturday, Roisin McCafferty will fly in from Coventry.
It’s a costly exercise for player and club and Friel is delighted to get the chance to face the Antrim champions upon a sod they know better than the backs of their hands.
“It’s a big reward,” Friel says.
“We’re the defending All-Ireland, Ulster and Donegal champions. These girls deserve a big crowd here on Sunday. It’s not very often that we get a home game in Ulster – this is the first since 2010.
“The club is putting in a big effort trying to promote the game and get a crowd behind them.
“Every game we play away would cost maybe €1,000 when you take in all the girls that are coming back and different bits and pieces like that.”
Beneath a reddening Termon sky at sunset, there’s the growing sense of hope that Friel’s whistle will be sounding into the shortening nights. They’re not read to lose grips on the silverware just yet.