As the Senior, Intermediate & Junior Championships get underway in the county, Louth LGFA PRO Dermot Woods has a look at the participating clubs and their hopes for success in this year’s competitions.
Last year’s Division 1 league winners Geraldine’s who boast a 100% record this term, are now seen as a side who can go far this summer and are being talked up as possible winners. They’ve enjoyed a really good season after a very disappointing display in last year’s final defeat to Cooley
The management team of Brian Cafferty and Roscommon native Paula Lavin have a large squad to choose from and have the strength in depth to carry them forward and will look to player’s such as Rebecca Carr, Alannah Finn, Eilish Hand, Ciera O’Connor and Jade Reidy to drive their charge
In what looks the most open championship in years the Gers look well equipped to bring the senior title to McGeough Park for the first time.
Competing in their seventh year at senior level, St.Mochtas are coming into the championship on the back of a relatively strong league campaign. Their management team of David Hoey, Andrew Englishby, Shane Kieran and Julia Gaughran will be hoping that last year’s semi final loss to Cooley will spur them on this time round. It maybe a cliche when managers talk of a good mix of youth and experience but the current Mochta’s panel looks well served in that regard with the experience of Deirbhilile O’Connor, Eimear and Aoife Byrne, Lauren Kieran and Orla O’Neill and dependable net-minder Niamh Kirk and the younger contingent of Ciara Callan, Kayla Byrne, Shauna Lennon and Katie Englishby to call on.
The Louth village side have won four of their five league games to date and currently sit second in the table and could be the team to watch
With just two wins from five league outings, Brides will not be strongly fancied outside of Knockbridge but that won’t bother their manager Fra Fegan. The former Roche Emmet’s star has struggled to put the same team team out on successive days,but they have shown their potential with very impressive league wins over Cooley and St. Kevin’s. The playing personnel has been boosted by the arrival of Louth player’s Una Pearson and Emma Singleton along with Sophie Watters although the latter two have yet to line out because of long term injury’s. Amy McNally, Maree Brennan, Emma,Broonagh McArdle and Ruth Hanna provide a scoring threat while Edel McKeown and Karen Rafferty have lots of experience having won four championship medals with Nh. Malachi while they have three Fegan sisters Sarah, Emma and Lilly in their panel
So far this decade, Stabannon Parnells have contested
seven of the nine finals that have been played.
They have been victorious on five occasions and will look to add to that haul in 2019. It’s quite an achievement for a club that only contested it’s first final in 2009
The mid-louth club under the guidance of Wayne Callan, have made steady, if unspectacular, progress this year. Still suffering from long-term injuries to pivotal players, Siobhan Giggins and Laura McNally, the team has maintained mid-table status in both the Subsidiary and Division 1 Leagues. Stalwarts like Grace Lynch and Danielle Sharkey will be boosted by fantastic up and coming players like Kate Smyth and the trio of McNally sisters, Ruth, Rachel and Ciara. At their best, this team will be a serious challenge for any team in the competition.
11-time winners and current champions Cooley Kickhams haven’t hit the heights of last year when they tore up the form book to take the title with a brilliant display to overcome hot favourites Geraldine’s in the final. Like 2018 when they didn’t make the league semi finals, Kickham’s have again struggled in the league but as the records show they can never be discounted come the championship. They are reaping the rewards of the emphasis they placed on their juvenile team’s over the past 7/8 year’s where they won many under age titles including the last three minor championships.
Last season’s successful manager Paul Hanlon is again in charge along with Peader Gallagher and possess in teenagers Lauren Boyle and Niamh Rice two of the most exciting attacking talent’s to emerge in Louth in recent times while another minor Aoife McDaid has impressed. Despite this being possibly the youngest team in the competition the importance of the experiencied duo of Patsi McGuiness and Siobhan McDonald won’t be lost on the management as both played significant roles in last year’s success
Any side with Michael Heaney in charge are always worth keeping an eye on. A founder member of the Louth LGFA County Board, Heaney is widely regarded as one of the countys best ever coaches. He guided outsiders Dowdallshill to a shock intermediate championship success in 2015 and two years later was in charge as unfancied St. Brides reached the senior decider. He doesn’t have a major panel to choose from but he has some really talented players at his disposal in the likes of Aoife and Shona Halligan, Tracy Rogers, Niamh Callen and newcomer Louise Byrne
Laura Butterley will be hoping that the championship will see an upturn in Kevin’s fortune’s after a tough league campaign to date. The former player has only recently taken charge and knows there’s more to come from the Philipstown side who last won this title in 2012 and were impressive Division 2 league winners just two year’s ago.
They have three county panelists to call on and are capable of causing problems for any side. They look particularly strong up front with the brilliant Paula Murray ably assisted by Susan Byrne and Aoife Gregory while Eimear and Grainne Murray will be other key players.
After a couple of years merged with Dowdallshill, Kilkerley are back in Intermediate football. The north Louth club have done tremendous work at juvenile level in recent times and Charlie Geoghain in his first year as manager has introduced exciting youngsters Ciera Lennon, Kerri and Lucy Litchfield and Cara Brady in the league. They have the experience of Blainad Callan, the dependable Fiona and Claire Lennon as well as current County star Sinead Woods in their ranks
Dreadnots have found the going tough in Div 2 this season and will do well to claim a semi final place. The loss of midfielder Maura Lynch is a major loss to the Clogherhead team who will also be without three other players to J1 visas
Former Cooley and Louth player Johnathan Clerkin will look to the tried and trusted Saorlaitt Dawe, Roisin McCullough, Ellis Briggs and Anita Lynch to provide the experience and leadership to claim a semi final place
Naomh Mairtin / Glen Emmets
The Naomh Mairtin / Glen Emmets team will be hoping for a successful run in this year’s Intermediate Championship. The amalgamated team has a good mix of young, upcoming players and seasoned campaigners with previous championship final experience behind them.
League form to date has been mixed with the team currently sitting in mid-table in Division 2. However, the squad has been severely hit by injuries over the last month with key players such as team captain Sarah Maguire, player/coach Kate Gerrard and experienced former Louth player Sarah Hamill all side-lined on the long-term injured list. As the championship gets underway the management will be hoping to get injured players recovered and back on the pitch. They will be depending on experienced players like Irene Kavanagh in the backs; Katie Tiernan and Laura Matthews to lead the attack; with Louth county star Aoife Russell operating from midfield. Other younger players to look out for include Katie McGinn, Jill Kenny and Shauna Johnson who will all be hoping to feature prominently in the Championship fixtures.
Clan na Gael
One of the county’s youngest club’s, Clan’s are certainly a team on the up. They contested their first final at adult level in 2017 where they were desperately unlucky to suffer a one point defeat to Mattock Ranger’s in the Division 3 league. They made up for that loss twelve months later by beating Newtown Blues at the final hurdle to take silverware to the Ecco road for the first time. The pacey Emily Norton is a big addition to their ranks following her transfer from Dowdallshill where she joins fellow county colleagues Allanagh and Shannen McLaughlin and Ciera Woods. Other notable players are Kelly O’Reilly, Sinead McGill and County minor Lee Lawlor
The Lordship girls will be keen to atone for last season where they lost in both the Championship and League finals. John Rice was in charge when they last won this championship back in 2014 and is again calling the shots.
On paper Pat’s look well equipped to one better than last time and have three members of the county panel, Caoimhe and Aine Breen and Kate Flood alongside prolific scorer Nicola Connor along with the returning duo of Denise Finnegan and Kate Cumiskey. They have some terrific emerging talent in the likes of Anna White, Grace Treanor, Meg Woods and Aisling O’Doherty and spurred on by the heartbreak of the past year look the team to beat in this grade.
The last time Naomh Fionnbarra won a championship was the junior title success in 2011. Since then they have been unlucky not to reach a semi final in the championship. This years team looks promising however with a nice mix of experience and youth. The hugely experienced Marie Doyle has made a return to the Togher parish club colours which is a major addition as well as the youth of Marie Claire and Heather Rogers and Katie McArdle who have been in superb form. Goalie Marie Breen has playeda major role in the Barr’s recent wins. They have a new management team in place this time with Alan McMahon, ably assisted by ex Louth player’s Stuart Reynolds and Andrew Rogers who have brought fresh ideas and thinking which is proving to be very successful so far, with the Barr’s having 5 wins from as many outings of in the league. They are very committed and go into their opening against St. Pat’s in good spirits in what is expected to be a highly competitive championship with morale high in the camp.
Having already lost their opening match, the young Drogheda side may struggle in their first season in this grade. While the combination team are certainly a team building for the future they are sure to benefit from the experience even if they don’t taste much success in a difficult group.
Hunterstown in just their second year are a club very much in the developing stages. All involved in the club are working extremely hard to build a strong base for those coming through the ranks and for the future. They have a tough opening match as they travel to play Cooley. The experience gained against top class opposition will be of benefit to this young team as they evolve. This young team have Emma Breen as captain while Paddy Meade Paddy O’Boyle and Amanda Lane make up the management team.
Preview by Dermot Woods | Photos by Warren Matthews