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04 Oct 2022

Shannen McLaughlin relishing their underdog status as Louth face high flying Laois

Louth ladies' Leinster Championship match with Carlow is postponed

Louth's Shannen McLaughlin. (Pic: Arthur Kinahan)

Sunday sees the Louth Ladies go into what is quite possible their biggest game since the All-Ireland Junior final in 2019. They travel to Kinnegad (Throw in 2PM) in Westmeath to face Laois for a place in the Semi-final of the Intermediate Championship.

That is uncharted ground for the Wee County and standing in their way of making it that far is an O’Moore outfit that have looked formidable so far this year.

First came a Division Three crown that they quite simply breezed to and following this was stellar performances against the highly regarded Roscommon and Kildare.

Louth captain Shannen McLaughlin is under no illusion that their latest threat is by far their toughest challenge but having already secured promotion to Division Three for 2022 she believes they are already in bonus territory and is relishing the chance to test their abilities.

“We are obviously going in as underdogs, but I think the panel that we have every single girl involved will give it absolutely everything” exclaimed the young captain.

“Whatever happens next Sunday we can hold our heads high as we exceeded expectations already this year and hopefully we will continue to do that.”

“We’ve learnt so much this year, anything from here is a bonus so we are looking forward to it and we are really excited. There is a good buzz in the camp, and everyone is just delighted that we have gotten this far, there’s nothing stopping us now going one step further as we’ve nothing to lose.”   

One of the major reasons for Laois’s recent surge in form has been their great eye for goal this season. They found the net four times against Kildare and made the umpire raise the green flag three times when securing their place in the knockout phase with an emphatic win over Roscommon.

In total in their seven games between league and championship the Midlanders have rattled the net 19 times. As a mainstay in the heart of the Louth defence, Mclaughlin knows they will need to be well drilled to keep them out, but she has also backed her prolific forwards to cancel out Laois’s threat.

“Our backs have been outstanding and have kept so consistent throughout the year. So it is just about going out on Sunday and performing to our best, while trying to keep their threat to a minimum.”

“If we can keep them goalless that will probably win us the game, but we know of their ability in front of the net, the likes of Sarah Anne Fitgerald and Mo Nerney are household names that can hurt us.”  

“But we have our girls like Kate Flood, Lauren Boyle, Niamh Rice, Laura Collins and Denise McKenna too who can do damage to them and are well respected in their own right.”

The Clan Na Gael clubwoman has not hidden how much the win on Sunday would mean to her side, a team which has worked extremely hard to get where they are today. An All-Ireland Semi-final would be a fair reward for their levels of commitment over the past 18 months.

She has seen the excitement around the county towards the Louth Ladies build and build given the panel is stronger than ever before and feels that nothing will stop them reaching HQ if they can sneak past what is of course a highly respected and strong Laois outfit.  

“It would mean absolutely everything to this group. Since Wayne Freeman has taken over and since the Lockdown the girls have worked so hard, I really can’t put into words how hard they have worked.”

“Doing runs on their own, ball work by themselves, being apart for so long then coming back and seeing the effort that has been put in on the pitch. This is the first time in years that the best 30 players in the county are on the panel.”

“It’s seeing that along with the buzz which is around the Louth Ladies again, it would be great to get that one step further as if we get to the Semi-finals there may be no stopping us as we’ll be itching to get back to Croke Park.”

The game will be streamed live at https://page.inplayer.com/peilnamban/ , with the tie in Kinnegad throwing in at 2PM.  You can also watch any of the other five LGFA games fixed for this weekend through the same link.

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