Fermanagh Ladies Set For All-Ireland Final

Experience and different emotions the theme of this years All-Ireland Ladies junior final between Fermanagh and Louth.

A second Fermanagh final appearance, or third if you take into account their 2017 replay victory over Derry in Clones, while Louth were the 2018 runners-up.

Louth will be hoping to atone for defeat against Limerick 12 months ago, while Fermanagh are aiming for a second West County Hotel Cup win in three years.

Louth’s record in Junior Finals reads Played five, won two, and they will look to put some credit in the ‘win’ section.  Their first appearance in 1998, was a landmark one as they lifted the junior title.

Final defeats followed in 2010 and 2012, before they finally cracked the code in 2015, defeating Scotland in the showpiece decider.

Fermanagh, meanwhile, needed two bites of the cherry two years ago to get past the challenge of Derry, as Sharon Murphy’s late, late penalty goal sent the game to a replay.

For many of the players on show, the Croke Park experience should hold no fears, and an entertaining final is anticipated.

Louth are unbeaten en-route to the Final, picking up the Leinster title along the way, while Fermanagh have had to deal with a setback, after they lost out to Antrim in the Ulster decider.

Fermanagh did gain revenge on the Saffrons when they met again in the All-Ireland Championship group stages, while another victory over Derry saw the Erne County finish on top of Group B.

That set up an All-Ireland semi-final clash with London, and Fermanagh came through that one in style, running out 0-16 to 3-3 winners against the Exiles.

Eimear Smyth, who was The Croke Park/LGFA Player of the Month for April, sparkled against London, scoring six of her nine points from play.

She’s a player that Louth will need to keep a close eye on, and she managed a haul of 0-5, including three pointed frees, when the counties met in Division 4 of the Lidl National League in April.

On that occasion, Louth ran out 2-19 to 2-10 winners, and that result, coupled with their excellent Championship form, should fill the Wee County with optimism ahead of this Final.

Fermanagh are not solely reliant on Smyth, of course, as Blaithin Bogue and captain Joanne Doonan are other key players who fuel their attack.

Fermanagh, overall, are a nicely-balanced side and facing off against Louth will hold no fear for manager Jonny Garrity and his players.

For Louth, it’s a second successive Final and manager Darren Bishop will be hoping to learn the lessons from the Limerick reverse last year.

Louth started as many people’s favourites on that occasion but the team didn’t deliver a performance that it’s capable of.

A second chance has now presented itself and the added prize on offer is the chance to play Intermediate Championship Football in 2020.

Kate Flood will lead Louth into action this afternoon, as she did last year, and she was in dominant form against Antrim in the recent semi-final, contributing 2-6 of her side’s 3-15 tally.

Antrim were overwhelmed, posting just 1-5 in reply, as Lauren Boyle, Rebecca Carr, Niamh Rice, Michelle McMahon, Eimear Byrne and Susan Byrne also got on the scoresheet.

And so the scene is set for what promises to be an intriguing TG4 All-Ireland Junior Final this afternoon, as Fermanagh and Louth get proceedings underway on the biggest day of the year.

Fermanagh: S Murphy, A Maguire, E Murphy, M Flynn, M McGloin, C Murphy, S McQuaid, R O’Reilly, A Flanagan, J Doonan (c), L Maguire, D Maguire, A O’Brien, E Smyth, B Bogue.

Louth: U Pearson, E Hand, S Quinn, S McLoughlin, C Nolan, M McMahon, D Osborne, E Byrne, A Byrne, R Carr, S Byrne, A Russell, L Boyle, K Flood (C), N Rice.