Louth and Monaghan Ladies played out an entertaining and competitive match at Reaghstown last Sunday afternoon for the memorial match for Mícheál McKeown with a large crowd turning out to raise a significant amount of money for the Irish Heart Foundation.
The day celebrated Mícheál’s contribution to both Louth and Monaghan LGFA and it appeared that those in attendance were returning the affection for a man who gave his all to both his native Louth and adopted county of Monaghan.
The game was played in a very competitive and sporting manner with Monaghan emerging deserved winners and taking the Mícheál McKeown Trophy for the first time.
It proved to be a useful run out for both sides and was the first opportunity for recently appointed Louth manager Wayne Freeman to see his charges in action for the first time. He will have been pleased with the showing of his new side which showed seven changes from their last outing in Croke Park.
Una Pearson in her ninth year as county keeper was captain for the day.
Monaghan manager Ciaran Murphy who will be aiming to see his side make an instant return to Division 1 after relegation from Division 2 earlier this year will also be encouraged by this display.
In a strong team performance, there were many fine displays particularly from centre forward Ellen McCarron.
The Emmiti Og star showed her full repertoire of skills, fetching, accuracy of passing and score taking while Ciara McAnespie one of four sisters on the team from the Emyvale club was a major threat throughout to the Louth defence.
Speaking after the game, Louth LGFA chairperson Liam O’Neill spoke about how Mícheál was probably looking down on the event with a smile and cracking a joke or two given his great personality and he also paid tribute to Mícheál’s achievements over the years.
He also welcomed members of Mícheál’s family especially his wife Mary and brother and sister, his adored grand-niece Rebecca was also there officiating as linesperson, and the players from Louth and Monaghan who braved the cold weather to take part especially those who have been out with injuries over the past while.
The inaugural organising committee of Gerry O’Reilly, Lorraine King, Brigid Russell and Tomás O hEochaidh also came in for special praise. Liam also revealed that Louth LGFA, will be making a contribution to The Irish Heart Foundation in the coming days.
Former Louth manager, Darren Bishop, who took charge of the Wee County for the game also spoke of his pride at being involved in the occasion.
“I was delighted to be asked back to manage the team for the day, it was a very emotional day for all involved, it was full of joy and sadness. People had an opportunity to share stories about Mícheál and laugh at how he always could crack a joke and light up a room with his brilliant personality,” he explained.
“Personally, it meant a lot as I knew Mícheál very well and that this game was a fantastic mark of respect for the man that he was. I know his wife Mary was at the game and she would have been very proud of the Louth girls for turning up in such great numbers to pay their respects.
“The game on the day didn’t go our way but that wasn’t the idea behind it. Bringing the two counties together to play this game was a fantastic idea as Mícheál had so much involvement with both counties down through the years and he will be remembered for winning an All-Ireland with Monaghan Ladies and being the catalyst for the Louth Ladies All-Ireland success this year,” added Darren.
Meanwhile, Monaghan manager Ciaran Murphy, stated that it was a great honour to be asked to participate in such a game in memory of the great Mícheál McKeown.
“Michael has done great work down the years in both counties in both mens and ladies football so the girls were delighted to honour him by participating in Sunday’s match.
“The match provided us with an opportunity to give some of our new players a run out and show their abilities at county level which is always good at this time of year.
“It was played in a wonderful spirit with plenty of free flowing football throughout, something which Michael would have enjoyed. Thankfully this game will now be an annual event and something which Mícheál’s family can take great pride in as it continues through the years.
“We would like to thank Louth LGFA for the invite and we look forward to taking part in this game over the coming years,” added Ciaran.
Louth: Una Pearson; Eilish Hand, Shannen McLaughlin, Seoda Matthews; Lauren McFaul, Ceire Nolan, Grainne Murray; Aine Breen, Eimear Byrne; Alannah McLaughlin, Aoife Russell, Aisling O’Doherty; Niamh Rice, Emily Norton, Lauren Boyle. Subs used: Laura Downey, Bronagh McGrane, Holly Lambe Sally, Coirin Rice, Kodie McEneaney.
Monaghan: Muireann Atkinson; Aine McQuaid, Sarah Boyd, Aoife McAnespie; Chloe McBride, Shauna Coyle, Aisling McAnespie; Abbie McCarey, Katie Duffy; Eimear McAnespie, Ellen McCarron, Noeleen McGuirk; Ciara McAnespie, Michaela Greenan, Casey Treanor. Subs used: Celine Nally, Maeve Monaghan.
Referee: Paul Burke
Report by Dermot Woods | Photos by Warren Matthews