Louth Legend Kirk gives her TG4 All Ireland Junior Final Preview

Former Louth hero, Orlaith Kirk, gives her thoughts on this weekend’s All Ireland finals. Orlaith repretsented her county for 16 years winning Player of the Match in the Leinster Junior Championship final. Orlaith knows all about Antrim football where she plays her club football with St. Brigids:


The ladies All Ireland Junior Final between Louth and Antrim on the 7th of October represents only the second time the counties have met in the championship. Having played with Louth ladies for 16 years winning junior and intermediate All-Ireland titles, being promoted from Division 4 to Division 1 and relegated right back down to Division 4 I have experienced the highs and lows wearing the red and white of Louth.




Victory on the 7th will promote Louth ladies to the intermediate championship where I feel they have the talent and prowess to compete ably and improve the quality of the product of ladies football within the county. Despite my allegiance to the wee county I find myself in the novel position of now playing club football in Antrim with the St.Brigids club and have club mates who will be lining out with the Antrim team on the 7th (Catherine Mullan, Anna Finnegan and Aoife Montague). We (St.Brigids) won the intermediate club championship in Antrim this year and all three girls played key roles in our victory. We now hope to emulate St.Pauls in 2009 and St.Galls in 2010 and capture the Ulster intermediate club championship.




Playing club football in Antrim offers a valuable insight into the upcoming final, I know both teams well having played with and against a number of girls on both teams.




The Louth squad is littered with talent. The Louth management has ensured the best talent in the county is on the county squad. The competition for the starting 15 places must be intense. This is evidenced through Louth’s impressive performances in the championship to date where they have won their qualifying games comfortably (notwithstanding the tough semi-final tussle with Offaly).




Antrim, arguably, have not been as impressive as Louth to date in the championship. Louth beat them quite comfortably in their earlier qualifying meeting in the championship this year. They overcame a ferocious challenge from Wexford in their semi-final match. However, Antrim have been finding their form in the run-up to the final and the tight semi-final victory will invigorate them further. Antrim won the junior All-Ireland in 2009 and a significant number of their girls have experience of Croke Park on All-Ireland Final day. Antrim will not fear Louth- they beat Louth in the National League earlier in the year.




Antrim’s strongest unit is arguably their forward line. Their captain Claire Timoney is a key player for them- she will carry the game to Louth acting as the play maker for her Antrim team mates. Antrim have serious pace in the forward line with the St.Pauls duo of Mairead Cooper and Kirsty McGuinness- these two forwards, will take watching in the wide open plains of Croke Park, where their pace and willingness to run at opponents will be a real asset. My St.Brigids team-mate, Anna Finnegan, is deadly in front of goals and possesses pace, power and a superb finishing ability (a player not unlike Louth’s Kate Flood). Louth will require the steadying influence of Marie O’Connell, Ann-Marie Lynch and Aine McGee to marshall the Louth-backline and ensure the scoring threat of Antrim is nullified- Louth need to snuff out the Antrim goal threat. If Louth stop Antrim scoring goals this could be the winning of the game for the wee county!




The midfield sector will be a real caldron of activity come the final. I think Louth could gain the upper hand in this area through the sheer industry and hard work of Grace Lynch and her potential pairing of Vicky McGinn or Sandra Lynch. The Antrim duo of Geraldine McGinley and Cathy Carey are talented physical footballers- sparks could fly here and I expect a physical and competitive battle (with Louth shading it)!




The Antrim backs will have their hands full with the impressive Louth forwards. Anne-Marie Murphy has been in great form- her likely battle with another St.Brigids team-mate of mine Catherine Mullan will be worth the entrance fee alone! Anne-Marie will act as puppeteer to her inside forward line ensuring supply of good quality ball. Louth need their inside forward line to deliver to win this match. Kate Flood and Jenny McGuinness have the potential to unlock the Antrim full-backline through their pace and scoring ability.




I expect a quality final with two evenly matched teams. I know Antrim will be improved from their earlier championship outing against Louth this Summer, though whether they will be improved enough to beat Louth remains the outstanding question to be answered!




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