Louth captain Sam Mulroy Picture: Sportsfile
The journey of an inter county footballer is one filled with huge highs and significant lows and Sam Mulroy has certainly experienced his fair share of both.
The promising young forward had the world at his feet in December 2017 as one of the county’s brightest prospects but would suffer a big blow when getting injured in a preseason O’Byrne Cup clash against Longford.
That put him on the shelf for months, but it never stopped him pursuing his goals of being a mainstay for Louth, regaining his spot on the panel and becoming one of the county’s most dangerous attackers in 2019.
2020 saw him star once more for the Wee County, so much so that he has been made captain by Mickey Harte for 2021.
“I’m so honoured to be given the role” stated Mulroy when confirming the news of his appointment. “it is an absolute privilege for myself, my family and my club, I’m a little bit shocked by the decision but I’m absolutely delighted by it.”
“A lot has happened in the last four or five years, including going through a tough injury that I endured against Longford dislocating my ankle, so it has been a long and tough road to get here, but one that I’ve enjoyed and this is another challenge to take on and one I’m looking forward too.”
The St Martins clubman has played under several managers but there was something special about working with the Tyrone man, noticing an extra spark of life in training ever since his arrival late last year.
He like most others in the county was blown away by the news the multiple All Ireland winner was heading East and has found their training to be a different level to what they had been used to.
“It is exciting, we are little bit in awe of Mickey and Gavin as they are brilliant, and it is absolutely incredible that a Louth team has someone of his stature talking to us in the dressing room and hopefully it can be a benefit to us.”
“Training has been excellent, really professional and quality training sessions, you’d know they have been around the game for a long while and that really shows. We have had a few good weeks under them since we have been back.”
“Obviously we’d have liked a little longer but that is the way it is, we’re excited and looking forward to getting started this weekend, it is a quick turnaround but hopefully that will suit us and we can hit the ground running and get a win.”
The game in question is Antrim, with the Saffron’s the visitors to Haggardstown this Saturday at 3pm for Mickey Harte’s first competitive game in charge.
The sides haven’t met in the league since 2017, with the Wee county coming out on top narrowly 2-10 to 1-11 in Drogheda, while the two sides drew 1-9 to 0-12 points a year earlier in Belfast before Louth defeated them again in that years Division Four final, 3-12 to 1-14.
Given the condensed nature of the league where Louth will only play Antrim, Leitrim and Sligo in the round robin phase, the newly appointed captain knows how vital a win will be, but expects a tough contest given the Northerners beat them in the 2019 Qualifiers.
“It is a massive game; I think they gave us a bit of spanking a few years ago in a Qualifier match in Drogheda so it is going to be a tough game.”
“Antrim are a good side with some nice forwards so it will be a tough test, especially as it is the first game and there might be a little more pressure on us to perform but hopefully we will and get ourselves a vital win at home.”
While the League is front and centre in the minds of all involved in the Louth panel, it is always the championship that will invoke the most excitement and anticipation amongst GAA supporters.
The recent Leinster Championship draw pits The Wee county against Offaly in the opening round, a tie which has not come out of the hat in the provincial draw since 2005 and is one that Mulroy is looking forward to playing once the league has been settled.
“Once you avoid Dublin early on I think everyone is happy but Offaly will be a tough test, they beat us last year by a point and I think we did a snatch and grab in Tullamore a few years ago so the games have been pretty close between us in the league over the last few years.”
“But we haven’t played them in the championship in a long time and championship brings a different element and intensity to football since it is straight knock out which adds a little more pressure. It is a match we will definitely be targeting to win but we have to get through this league campaign first.”
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