All-Ireland Senior Ladies Football Championship – Round One
Dublin v Cavan
Saturday, Venue tbc, 2pm
By Michael McMullan
TAKING on the Dubs is the perfect chance to test yourself against the best the game has to offer insists Cavan’s Laura Fitzpatrick.
The Breffni Blues open their All-Ireland campaign with a visit to the Leinster champions and the St Finbarr’s defender feels they didn’t do themselves justice in their last outing, the Ulster semi-final defeat at the hands of Donegal.
“The disappointing thing this season was only having three games in the league and hopefully that will return to normal,” appealed Fitzpatrick on the need to park the shortened season.
After a 0-10 to 0-9 defeat at home to Monaghan in their Division Two opener, Cavan lost out to Ulster champions Armagh before a 3-11 to 1-12 win over Tyrone kept them from the dreaded relegation play-offs.
“In the first game we lost to Monaghan by a point and that was probably the decider to see if we made the semi-final or not,” she said.
In the Ulster championship, two Susanne White goals left them chasing Donegal in their 3-19 to 1-11 defeat.
“That game was our least competitive game, but they got their spells; were clinical and we were very disappointed with the result,” Fitzpatrick recalls.
“It was a big defeat in the end, it wasn’t a true reflection. They were more clinical and punished us with every chance they got.”
After starting her county career in 2012, she is in her 11th season with Cavan and was part of the 2013 Intermediate All-Ireland winning squad.
Despite a vibrant school scene that has helped feed into the county setup, Cavan haven’t made the breakthrough since their promotion to the senior ranks.
“Over the years we have been there or thereabouts, but never broke that line. It is so hard, as we are sitting in Division Two and we really need to push to get out”, Laura stressed.
“When you play Division One football it is a lot different and might break that line a bit easier for us.
“The talent has been there, but in Ulster it is extremely competitive so it is very hard to make a breakthrough.
“We have been in lots of finals and there has been plenty of heartbreak over the 10 years, but not too many medals unfortunately.”
“That’s the line in ladies football,” Fitzpatrick stressed. “A point here or there could either put you in a semi-final or leave you on the other side of the league. We are performing well and are close, but it is the final little margins to get us over the line.”
Coming from the St Finbarr’s club, formed as an amalgamation of Drung and Kill, Laura admits to the ladies’ game thriving in the last five years.
“At the minute it is hard to get pitches because every team and every team needs facilities,” she said, pointing out the growth.
The extra exposure of live streamed games has helped generate more interest and playing as part a double header with the Donegal and Cavan men in Clones has also helped.
“We are really looking forward to to starting the All-Ireland Championship with Dublin,” she said. “It is lovely to get the opportunity to pit yourself against them.
“After them beating Meath, the All-Ireland champions, it lets you see were you are at and on any given day, anybody can beat anybody else.”