A place in the last four of the All-Ireland series is up for grabs this Saturday in Ruislip as Derrygonnelly Ladies make the trip to London to take on British champions Round Towers.

The Harps secured the Ulster crown with a hard-fought win over Castlerahan/Denn just under a fortnight ago and Manager Garry Smyth says that the break between the Ulster final and the All Ireland quarter-final was a welcome one after a long run of games in consecutive weeks.

“Last weekend was the first weekend in 13 that we didn’t have a game. We have had games every week between league games, the Fermanagh Championship, the Intermediate Championship and then into the Ulster Championship, so it was good for the girls to physically get a break away from games and also mentally to get that break to just refresh,” he said.

Round Towers now lie ahead this Saturday for Derrygonnelly and Smyth expects a very competitive encounter.

“They obviously came through the London Championship and from that they went on to beat John Mitchells of Liverpool in the All British semi-finals, and they then defeated Dunedin Connolly of Edinburgh in a very close final.

“They have come a competitive route through into the quarter final and they are there on merit, and they will have to be respected because they are a seasoned outfit with a lot of very mature players across their line-up who come from all over Ireland.

“They certainly pose a considerable challenge to our group,” he added.

And he is hoping that the two sides can serve up an entertaining contest.

“We are pleased to get the opportunity to play in Ruislip; we know the facilities are top-notch there so that should all add to the occasion and I hope to the game as well.

“I would hope that it is a good spectacle between two teams who will be hoping to push themselves into the next stage of the All Ireland competition so there will be no quarter asked or given there.”

Smyth knows though that they will have to improve certain aspects of their Ulster final performance if they are to remain in the championship.

“As you go deep into the competition you are definitely conscious that the quality of the opposition you are playing is going up, and we have to respond according in terms of the way we perform.

“While we were delighted to come out on the right side of the result against Castlerahan/Denn in the Ulster final, there were elements of the performance that when we looked back on it, certainly we feel there is scope for improvement and it is just a matter of whether we can carry that through to the next game,” he said.


One thing the Harps did show in the Ulster final was a ruthlessness in front of the posts, and Smyth acknowledges that they will need to do that again this weekend.

“Chances are at a premium so you have got to take them when they are presented and certainly I can’t see that being any different in this game at the weekend.”

With the game in London, there is always the thought that the travelling makes things that bit tougher, but Smyth sees positive aspects to that too.

“I suppose it depends on what approach you take with it. There is an element of inconvenience involved with travelling, but there is also a positive I would say in terms of getting the group together and travelling.

“It gives people the opportunity to spend time in each other’s company and that I would hope would help to strengthen the bond that is already there,” he explained.

Ulster was a step into the unknown for Derrygonnelly and now this Saturday’s tie will be another, but whatever challenges have been set in front of the players this year they have responded positively too, and Smyth stresses that they are looking forward to this next test.

“We are probably going into an environment now that’s unfamiliar to us all and it is only by going into those environments and getting outside your comfort zone, both as players and management, that you learn and improve.


“We are being challenged in ways we haven’t before and so far the group has responded, so hopefully that can continue and we look forward to the weekend.”

And he is hoping that Derrygonnelly can produce a strong enough performance to take them through.

“It is knock-out football at this stage and if you want to remain playing football, you have to be at it.

“There are no second chances at this stage – you have to be in a position to perform to the best of your ability, and hopefully that is enough then to get you over the line,” he concluded.