Donoughmore's Aileen Buckley: "We believed that we could go all the way to All-Ireland title."

Donoughmore's Aileen Buckley: "We believed that we could go all the way to All-Ireland title."
Donoughmores' Aileen Buckley who was named 'player of the match' after defeating Galtee Rovers in the Munster ladies junior club championship final at Mallow Picture: Eddie O'Hare

THE events of November 24th 2019 are sure to not be forgotten in a hurry out in Donoughmore.

That is as a result of their All Ireland Junior Football title success over MacHale Rovers, in the final after extra-time at Duggan Park in Ballinasloe.

After what was a truly epic encounter, Donoughmore were to emerge as the victors after what was a pulsating affair which went down to the wire.

It was a memorable day for all of those associated with the club, from the players, backroom staff, supporters and everyone else in between.

One lady who is still basking in the glow of an All-Ireland winners medal is Aileen Buckley.

She was one of the crucial performers for Donoughmore right throughout the campaign.

That was illustrated on a number of occasions, such as finding the back of the net in the All Ireland semi-final win over Navan O’Mahony’s.

Donoughmore actually were to taste defeat in their Cork Junior Championship opener against Douglas. 

But they were to regroup through the round robin phase.

Donoughmore made it to the final, where they were to end up defeating Valley Rovers.

From there it was on to the Munster stage. 

They were to defeat Kilcummin of Kerry, then Old Mill from Limerick in the semi-final, before winning the provincial decider against Galtee Rovers.

In that Munster decider, Aileen was to come to the fore for her side, scoring with a total of 1-5, as Donoughmore won in the end by a total of seven points in total.

As mentioned earlier, Navan O’Mahony’s were disposed over by Donoughmore in the national semi, before the Mid Cork club were to come out on top in that titanic tussle of an All-Ireland final.

“It was an unforgettable year for us. Looking back to the year previous, we lost out in the (Cork)semi-final to Glanmire,” Buckley describes to The Echo.

“That drove us on for this year then. 

"We lost our first match to Douglas and I think that drove us on even more then, that we had to win our next two.

“It was an unforgettable journey. 

"We got to the County final and that was our aim from the start of the year.

“After that then we were in bonus territory. 

"Winning the Munster then, the belief was there that we could go all of the way.

“It was a tough journey and we had some very tight matches, especially the County final, the All Ireland semi-final and the final, they were tough matches right down to the wire.

“So it was a year that we will not forget that is for sure.” 

Donoughmore are a club which does seem to have a decent mix between youth and experience in their ranks.

Some of their players were not even born the last time the club won an All-Ireland previously.

Their panel ranges from the likes of Claudia Keane, who was on the Cork Minor All Ireland team of 2019, up to the likes of one of the all-time great GAA stars in Rena Buckley, who has a phenomenal amount of All Ireland medals in her cabinet through both codes. 

Having a player like that in your ranks provides a vast wealth of experience.

“Rena is a great role model and inspiration to everyone, not only young players but to Ladies Football in general," adds Aileen.

“She gives great advice and when she speaks you listen and take everything on board.

“She’ll motivate you and inspire you to be the best that you can be. I can’t say much more that hasn’t been said already. 

"But Rena is an absolute inspiration to everybody and any Ladies Footballer out there.” 

All in all, Donoughmore are a club that that do have a rich tradition, but they have been on a rollercoaster of a journey. 

In 2001 and 2003, they won Senior All Ireland club titles, as well as contesting finals in 2004 and 2009. But then as recently as 2017, they were unable to field an adult team.

The club have been in a rebuilding period in more recent times, but this 2019 Junior All Ireland crown is a major seal of approval with regards to the work which they have been doing.

Aileen describes:

“In 2017 we couldn’t field a team, so we were not competing in anything. So to come back and win an All-Ireland Junior title two years later, it is unbelievable.

“It was a huge journey for not only the players, but also the management and for the people of the parish."

2019 was seen as a year where a Cork title would have been seen as a success, so to end up also winning provincial and All Ireland crowns meant it has been essentially a dream past number of months from a Donoughmore point of view.

Turning towards the future and what Donoughmore will hope to achieve in 2020 and beyond, Buckley will hope they can kick it on again.

“As a team we are ready for the next challenge, which is up to Intermediate now. We will give it our best shot.

“Look there is always areas to improve on and hopefully now it will be a successful year again.

“We will give it our best shot and hope for the best. 

"We will get back into training as early as possible and drive on from there.” 

Aileen Buckley can overall reflect with immense fondness on the role which she has played in the Donoughmore achievements over the course of the 2019 campaign.

It is clear by the end of this chat how much putting on the Donoughmore jersey means to her.

“Absolutely everything. 

"As a young girl, I always looked up to the likes of Juliette Murphy, Rena Buckley and all of them playing with Donoughmore.

“I always dreamed of having success like those players. 

"It was an absolute honour to wear the black and white jersey of Donoughmore.

“To get to the All-Ireland final, it is not every day you can say that, but then to win it.

“It was an unbelievable year, one I won’t forget anytime soon anyway.”

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