Louth manager Darren Bishop is looking forward to the upcoming Leinster JFC final against Carlow. (Pic: Warren Matthews)
Louth manager Darren Bishop is pleased with how his side have regrouped after their Division Four semi-final loss to Antrim and says his panel are working well ahead of the Leinster LGFA JFC final against Carlow later in the month.
The Monaghan man has watched his side play Monaghan and Down in challenge matches recently, games which saw his panel size increase with players such as St. Mochtas’ Aoife Byrne returning from injury.
But the lengthy period of club games has had its downside, with it continuing an already busy year for many of his county stars, a programme which is set to further intensify ahead of the championship.
Nevertheless, Bishop used the club spell to watch as many games as possible and saw potential to add players to his panel - though he claims the appetite is not always there.
“Girls have been asked,” he told The Democrat.
“There are a lot of girls who are loyal to their clubs and perhaps step away from their county. Perhaps they just don’t have as much support as I would love from the clubs’ set-ups.
“They’re possibly prevented from going to the county football because they’re not going to get game-time with their club - I find it very odd and strange when I hear those type of comments coming back.”
Bishop added: “The girls have had plenty of game-time with their club and training has been going well.
“The girls have come back and bought into what we’re selling to them. They’ve set targets themselves and they’re aiming towards those: winning a Leinster title and getting ready for the group stages of the All-Ireland.”
St. Bride’s forward Aimee McNally has stepped away from the squad for personal reasons, the Cremartin man revealed.
But Louth remain on track, he insists, and despite Kilkenny’s withdrawal from the championship, which means just a final in the Leinster junior series, the competition holds the same impetus for Bishop and co moving into a challenging All-Ireland group phase, where Derry, London and Carlow will be in opposition.
“It’s silverware and no matter what year you play or team you put out, you always want silverware sitting on the table at the end of the year. It’s what we set out to do.
“I would feel it’s very important, especially the way the league finished. This is a chance for us to get back on track. The girls have trained very well and done what they’ve been asked to do.”
Speaking specifically on the Barrowsiders’ challenge, having beaten them heavily in the National League, Bishop said: “They’re an unknown, really.
“They’ve Gerry McGill over them, a former All-Ireland winner (manager) with Dublin and he’s obviously gone there to progress Carlow and win with them, if not this year, next year. He’s putting a plan in place in Carlow football which is quite impressive.
“Yes, we had a comprehensive win (during the league), but I do know Carlow were missing some players.
“You look at Carlow as being a wounded animal and anybody who’s ever had a dog that’s been hurt, it can bite back pretty fiercely. We have to be prepared for that. Carlow are coming in looking to have a bite back at us and to have a good stepping stone moving into the All-Ireland series.”