By Cóilín Duffy
CARLOW ladies football captain Nuala Mohan expects a tight battle this Sunday, as her side aim to capture their second Leinster ladies junior football title in three years, when they face Louth at Netwatch Cullen Park (12 noon).
The Wee County have held the upper hand in their recent meetings, with goals key at the same stage of the championship last year, as they took silverware thanks to a 3-9 to 0-8 win at the same venue.
Louth were 2-17 to 1-8 winners over Carlow in St Margarets, Dublin in the league at the end of March, but Mohan feels there won’t be much between the sides this weekend.
“At this stage we are well used to playing Louth. We know they are a brilliant team. They beat us last year in the Leinster final and they went the whole way to the All-Ireland final and to Croke Park, so they have serious experience gained from that,” she told The Nationalist.
“We know it’s going to be a challenge, but at the end of the day that’s the reason you play football – for challenges like that, and it’s up to us to up our game and to be the best we can on the day and hopefully we can get the result that we need.”
It’s Mohan’s second year playing with Carlow, with the Monaghan native previously playing football with Foxrock-Cabinteely in Dublin, before transferring to line-out with Bennekerry-Tinryland.
She says the junior championship is of a very high standard, and that teams really raise their game come summertime.
“Last year was my first year playing with Carlow, and one thing I noticed from playing teams in the league, was that there maybe was seven or eight points between teams then, but come the championship the margin was down to a point or two,” the physiotherapist said.
“In the league, we beat Derry by 12 points, and then in the first round of the championship we only beat them by a point, and it was down to the wire.
“That was a real eye-opener for me, and it has made me prepare better for this year’s championship, because come championship it’s the kick of a ball between teams.
“To be fair, that’s the way it should be. You don’t want teams with runaway scores, it should be close and competitive because that’s why you train at the end of the day, and that’s why you play football.”
And Mohan says her side aren’t lacking motivation, against a Louth side that lost last year’s All-Ireland decider to Limerick, after the Shannonsiders netted five goals at Croke Park.
“I suppose come championship, there’s no more motivation needed. When there’s a cup on the line, there’s always going to be a bit of bite to the game aswell.
“Louth won the Leinster junior title last year; Carlow won it the year before so I suppose the best motivation is third time lucky and see who comes out on top!
“We lost to Limerick in the group stages last year as well, and I suppose we learned a few hard lessons that day too, but that’s how you learn and that’s how you develop as a team and as a squad. The bar is set really high and it’s up to us to get to it.”
Leinster Junior Ladies Football Final
Carlow v Louth
Netwatch Cullen Park, Sunday, 12 noon