Louth looking to end three-year wait

Louth will be aiming for a first Leinster title since 2009 when they take on Offaly in Dr Cullen Park in Sunday’s Leinster Junior Ladies final.

Louth will be aiming for a first Leinster title since 2009 when they take on Offaly in Dr Cullen Park in Sunday’s Leinster Junior Ladies final.

This will be the fifth championship meeting between the sides but the first time in a final. Louth will be out to avenge last year’s semi-final defeat when they lost by 1-11 to 1-8 in Edenderry. The visitors failed to recover from a poor first half showing where they trailed by 1-9 to 0-1 at the break.

However in the previous two seasons Louth came out on top on their way to taking the title in 2009 and also reaching the final 12 months later. They also met in the first round in 1998 the year Louth won their first ever Leinster title, winning comfortably in Summerhill.

The sides have already met this year in a League tie in April. On that occasion in Edenderry Offaly pushed Louth all the way but a strong finish by the visitors ensured a 2-12 to 0-13 win and a place in the semi-finals.

Indeed with just ten minutes remaining Louth held a slender 0-10 to 0-9 lead when they were reduced to 14 players but late goals from Lisa Kelly and Laura O’Neill undid Offaly.

In the recent championship semi-final the Faithful county were very impressive as they destroyed Kilkenny by 3-23 to 1-2. Offaly are now reaping the benefit of the excellent work that has been done at under-age level in recent years.

As recently as last Sunday their U16s took the Leinster title, beating Louth in the final in Portarlington. Club football in the midland county has been dominated by Rhode and Edenderry in recent years and these clubs could have many as 10 of their players on Sundays starting 15.

Their opponents will be in confident mood following impressive performances in seeing off Carlow and then a fancied Wexford in the semi-final. Louth possess a real attacking threat with the likes of Jenny McGuinness, Roseanna Heaney, Lisa Kelly and Kate Flood, who is currently in a rich vein of form with the St Pat’s star hitting 4-5 in her two championship outings to date.

They also have an excellent midfield pairing in Sandra and Grace Lynch while the defence has benefited from the return of Andrea Carney and the arrival of ex Galway star Marie O’Connell, with the Naomh Fionnbarra star settling in superbly to the no six position while Una Pearson has been a solid last line of defence.

If Louth can repeat the performance they produced against Wexford and with a strong subs bench to call on, the prospect of a provincial title heading to the Wee County must be very high.