Championship Weekend – A big weekend for Louth Ladies Football

It’s one of the biggest weekend’s of the Louth Ladies football season with three Senior Championship quarter finals and two Intermediate Championship ties down for decision. We take a look at the match ups and give our take on how the games will go.

Senior Championship

Cooley v Stabannon (Sunday, 4pm)

Current holders Cooley Kickham’s take on Stabannon who have been undoubtedly the the team of the decade.
Since their first Championship triumph in 2010 the mid Louth side have taken a further six titles, the last being two seasons ago when they beat St.Brides in the final.

They lost their opening match to St. Fechins while a draw against Newtown Blues was enough to see them into the last eight. Influential defender Andrea Carney is extremely doubtful due to a serious facial injury sustained in the Fechins match. They have experienced operator’s in Annemarie Lynch, Jenny McGuiness, and Bronagh McGrane to lead them while Rachel McNally is one of the most exciting players on the domestic scene and is a  potential game changer for Wayne Callan’s side.

Cooley have generally made a point of gearing their entire season towards Championship time in the past in order to peak at the pivotal moments. This time under new manager Peader Gallagher they have struggled in the league and suffered a heavy loss to Roche in their opening match. They recovered well from that setback to convincingly beat St. Kevins. Their cause hasn’t been helped by the loss of the experienced duo of Patsi McGuiness and Siobhan McDonald along with Leanne Tuohy, Niamh Quigley  and Sara Jane McCormack from last year’s successful team.

A further blow to the peninsula club hopes was the serious leg injury to star player Lauren Boyle which is expected to prevent the county star from leading the attack on Sunday.
With all these factors in the mix  the experience of Stabannon maybe enough to get them over the line.

Geraldines v Newtown Blues (Sunday, 11am)

This is probably one of the more cut and dried ties of the day with the Gers aiming to go one step further than last year when they lost in the final. As far as talent goes, the Haggardstown outfit aren’t lacking in the personnel department and would be regarded as one of the strongest squads in the county. They have some serious talent in the likes of the vastly experienced Bonnie Fleming, Linda McCabe, Ciera O’Connor and current county stars Rebecca Carr and Eilish Hand. Gers were impressive in beating St. Mochta’s and St. Bride’s while the Drogheda side lost to Fechins and drew with Stabannon.

When these clubs met in last year’s semi final, the Geraldines emerged comfortable winners and a similar result is expected on this occasion.

St.Fechins v St. Kevins (Sunday, 11am)

St. Kevins are having a very poor season and facing last year’s Intermediate Champions  St. Fechins isn’t the easiest of tasks. The Philipstown side lost to both Roche and Cooley in the group stages and they currently languish at the wrong end of the Division 1 league table.

In contrast the Termonfechin side are enjoying a fine season and topped their group with victories over both Stabannon and Newtown Blues. In Rachel Kinch they possess a forward of real quality along with the talented Catherine McGlew while the defence is well marshelled by county star Ceire Nolan. While the Fechins will be strong favourites it would be foolish to write off a Kevins team who despite their poor recent form, have in their ranks quality players such as Susan Byrne, Grainne Murray, Paula Murray, Aoife Gregory to call on.

Intermediate Championship

Kilkerley Emmets v Naomh Fionbarra (Sunday,11am)

One of the most difficult games to predict as both teams have been inconsistent so far. Kilkerley were impressive winners over Dreadnots but in their next match went down to a heavy defeat at the hands of Clan Na Gael. Charlie Geoghain in his first season in charge has introduced a number of exciting youngsters from last year’s successful U16 team with the likes of Ciera Lennon, Sinead Neal, Ella McEntaggart all proving their worth, while they have plenty of experience in county star Sinead Woods, Blainad Callan, Yvonne Quigley and Claire Lennon.

The Togher side have been superb in the league but have not brought that form into their championship performances.  Alan McMahon’s side will look to current Louth player Leanne Sharkey to lead the attack alongside Marianne Hullen and Ciara McMahon. They have  strong defender’s in ex Galway and Louth star Marie Doyle and Deirbhla Osborne while Niamh Devlin is among this grades top midfielders.

Naomh Mairtin/Glen Emmets 2-11, Dreadnots 2-08 (Friday, 8pm).

The first of the Intermediate quarter finals was played on Friday night. In wet and windy conditions in Monasterboice the Mairtins/Emmets girls got the better of Dreadnots in an exciting match.

The home side had a great start and with two first half goals from Aoife Russell went in at the break leading by 2-08 to 1-06. Aided by a strong wind, the Dreadnots fought back strongly in the second half and threw everything into attack. The Mairtins/Emmets held firm in defence, marshalled by experienced campaigners Irene Kavanagh and Yvonne Brennan and some great saves, including a penalty save, by goalkeeper Rachel Goodwin.

A late Dreadnots goal gave them hope and made for a tense finish, but the home side held on for a deserved victory and will now face St Pats in the semi-final.

Previews by Dermot Woods