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29 Sept 2022

Val Leddy dreaming of a big day in Croke Park as the Martins host Shelmaliers

Val Leddy dreaming of a big day in Croke Park as the Martins host Shelmaliers

If Naomh Mairtin win on Sunday, their reward will a Leinster Semi-final which is due to take place in Croke Park

Is there a tougher task in Louth sport right now then trying to break into the reigning Senior Football Champions Naomh Mairtin’s starting 15?

A side that has steamrolled all that has gone before them in Louth before backing it up recently when coasting to a decisive win in the Leinster Senior Club Championship over Carlow champions Rathvilly in Haggardstown.

This is a team which is shipping on averaging under eight points a game as teams continue to struggle to break down the Blue Wall built by Fergal Reel.  Meanwhile in attack they notched up 14 goals in six matches, while averaging just over 14 points a game.

Why change a broken formula? They might be pushing those starters to the edge in training, but nobody wants to be on the sideline. This is especially the case for those who are used to being in the team, time on the bench hurts them more than most.

Val Leddy was on the starting 15 as the men from Monasterboice collected their first Joe Ward Cup last year, however this season the construction worker has had to settle for a role as an impact sub often only getting gametime after the hard work had been done.

Despite impressing when introduced, the clinical forward was very understanding as to why these performances were not changing the minds of Reel and his selectors.

“Looking on from the sideline, it is just the fact the boys keep working so hard. Work and more work, they just keep doing what they have being doing so well for two years which is great” he exclaimed.

“They do be miles ahead, then you’re coming on and giving it your best shot but the games are over, they had the business work done already so you can’t really blame them for that (not starting him).”

Leddy’s chance finally came in that Leinster duel with Rathvilly, an injury leading to him being a late edition to the starting team.

It was a chance he took, showing his qualities with 1-1, helping the Jocks create a commanding cushion over the Barrowsiders which they never came close to denting in a stunning 2-16 to 1-5 win.

“Jack Murphy was unlucky in that he hurt his hand and I just got the opportunity from that then, I was delighted to get back in the team and I gave it my best, I can’t stress how good it felt.

“I just happened to be in the right place at the right time for the goal, it happened really quickly, looking back at it myself afterwards, I’ve seen it a few times and it was amazing how fast it happened.

“I like to get forward a lot, get the goals and it really boosts the confidence, after getting 1-1 that will hopefully keep me there for the next day having shown what I can do to the management, and I will hopefully grab a few more now.”

Next up for the Jocks is a date with the Wexford Champions Shelmaliers this Sunday in Haggardstown (Throw in 1PM), a side who has looked very strong in their own championship this season.

They have bagged 11 goals in five games, two of those crucially coming in the county final, one late in the second half as they accounted for 2016 Wexford champions Gussserane by 2-11 to 1-10 to bag just their second title following on from their triumph in 2018.

It was a rare close call, having won their group stage encounters by four and five, their quarter final by 11 and semi final by nine points. As a dual club it has been a long season, having also made it to the Semi-finals of that competition having gone in as Senior Hurling champions.

However, they now have a one month break to contend with and Leddy is confident the Martins can utilise their match fitness to overcome a side which should be their toughest battle to date.

“It is hard to know what to expect off this team, I hear they are young and hungry but it is difficult to judge what they could bring but I’d expect a much harder battle anyways.

“The time off could catch them on the hop, we will definitely have the match fitness over them, but they would be training away all the same. You need those games to keep the sharpness going and we’ve had that.

“It seems as though we’ll go in as favourites even though I wouldn’t think there will be much in it as it is hard to know what they’ll be like after such a break. We’ll approach it the same way we have approached the rest of the games, nothing different and hopefully that will bring us the win.”

While the glory of making it to a Leinster Semi-final should be enough to get the Martins riled up, there is a rare extra carrot being dangled in front of the two teams, a prize that any GAA team across the world would fight tooth and nail for. That being a day out at Croke Park.

This proposition has really wetted their appetite for more success in Leinster this year, having already now savoured the joys of Joe Ward twice. For players who haven’t graced the Louth jersey, this could be their last chance to walk on the Dublin venue’s hallowed turf.

“Throughout the year there was definitely an eye on Leinster, making sure we got there, it is where we want to be and it was always about taking it from there, showing what we are made of then” explained Leddy.

“It is a huge motivator, thinking that we are just another 60 minutes away from playing in Croke Park. For anyone that doesn’t play for their county this is probably their only opportunity to ever get that chance.

“I’ll never get this opportunity again to go and play in HQ, so that is something else that will be going on inside the head on Sunday.”

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