Louth v Fermanagh
Sunday 14th April, 2:00pm
Glen Emmets, Tullyallen
With both counties already in the semi finals, Louth will be aiming to continue their recent good form when they take on fellow high fliers Fermanagh in the National Football League Round 5 re-fixture in Tullyallen on Sunday.
It will be the third meeting between the counties in as many years with the Erne county coming out on top on each occasion. Last year Louth traveled to a wintry Derrygonnelly and went down to a 3-10 to 2-05 defeat while twelve months earlier Fermanagh won a high scoring encounter by 6-09 to 5-09.
Since an opening round loss to Limerick, Louth have recorded impressive wins over Leitrim, Kilkenny, Carlow, Antrim, and Derry to sit as league leaders on score difference.
In their latest victory over Derry, Louth finished the match with four players from the Clan Na Gael club on the field. The Ecco Road setting provided the four Clans players on the panel with a match on home turf, something which Shannen McLaughlin, now a mainstay of the Wee County full-back line, admits was “great”.
McLaughlin was a ‘sole ranger’ on the Louth team that reached last year’s All-Ireland junior final, having been the only Clans player involved, although that tally has been supplemented by Ciara Woods, Emily Norton and Shannen’s sister, Alannah, in 2019.
Louth approach their latest encounter seeking to make it six wins from 6 outings. With the team sitting top, the camp are ultra-positive, with recent squad additions, including the aforementioned creating huge competition for places, McLaughlin concedes;
“There are completely different vibes about the whole set-up. Training is going really well and there is huge competition for places. Darren has kept most of the panel from last year and brought in some new girls, the likes of Rachel McNally, Susan Byrne is back and Sarah Quinn. They’ve all come in and had an impact.
“We’re a really close-knit group, but the girls that have come into the set-up have slipped right in and Darren has brought an element of professionalism too; everything is done to the highest level. We just have to keep pushing in the right direction and if we perform to our best (this weekend) I think we’ll be OK because we’ve huge ability in our team.”
The Erne County inflicted just one of two league losses on Louth last year, before the Reds came up short against Wicklow in the Division Four final. McLaughlin played in that encounter, one which she remembers for reasons other than the result.
“It was an absolutely dreadful day where it snowed pretty heavily. I remember at one stage not being able to see the ball because the snow was so heavy. I presume Fermanagh have many different girls this year so we’ll play the game at hand and not worry about last year. We can’t change that, we can only control this game, and we’ll look towards righting that wrong.”
Games between these two are normally close ,exciting and high scoring, with Sunday’s game expected to be another exciting affair.
Fermanagh under former Tyrone manager Johnnie McGarrity have played some outstanding football in this campaign and have a similar record to Louth. The Erne county boss is anxious that his charges continue their good form in Tullyallen.
“It is important to maintain a winning run, both teams will be keen to keep that going. We are very content to have secured a safe passage to the semi finals with a game to spare. And for us that represents a very good group stage and we will look to finish it off on a high against Louth.
Louth are a very good team and I have been impressed with them and their style of play in this campaign,they are a very well coached outfit and we know they will be tough opposition. But the fact that we have already achieved a top four finish will alleviate any real pressure. In saying that, we would like to finish as high as possible and we will aim for the win which will secure top spot.” concluded the Fintona clubman.