ALL IRELAND LADIES SENIOR CHAMPIONSHIP GROUP A ROUND ONE
Donegal v Waterford
Saturday, Birr, 5pm
By Niall Gartland
DONEGAL have had a few near-misses in the championship in recent years, so their supremely talented forward Geraldine McLaughlin is looking forward to getting started in Saturday’s group stage clash against Waterford.
McLaughlin was the star of the show in Donegal’s one-point defeat to Armagh after extra-time in the Ulster final. It was a bitterly disappointing loss to put it mildly, but she says they’ve switch their attentions to the All-Ireland series.
“We have (moved on), we regrouped on the Wednesday after the final, and you know what, it’s something you have to move on from. You probably learn more from losing than winning, it’s over and done now and we have to think about the next few games.”
Maxi Curran’s side fell narrowly short to Dublin in the knock-out rounds in the last two years, so Donegal know they aren’t too far away from the top table.
“We’ve competed against the best team in the country so we know we’re close enough. When you’re playing against those teams you’ll be punished for any mistakes you make, so it’s trying to get better every day you go out.”
One of the most respected ladies footballers in the country, McLaughlin has noticed that in recent years the interest in the sport has sky-rocketed.
Asked if she feels like a role model, she said: “I suppose that’s the case at times, especially now I’ve nieces and nephews, they seem to look up to me. At the start it just seemed to be girls, but even boys recognise me now. You definitely see more lads at games than at the start.”
McLaughlin’s first year on the Donegal set-up was back in 2010, when by coincidence they faced, and defeated, Waterford in the All-Ireland Intermediate final. Both sides have made progress in the intervening years.
“That’s a long time ago now, that was my first year playing. We’ve come up against them a couple of times since. They’re a good wee side, they’re young and fast and will be up for the game.”
In theory, this was supposed to be a home game for Donegal, but it’s set to be played as part of a double header in Offaly town Birr. The reason for that is to accommodate the TV cameras, but while the promotion of the ladies game is to be welcomed, McLaughlin thinks it’s a pity that they didn’t get to play the game in Donegal.
“It’s for the benefit of TG4, and that’s great for promoting the game and I understand it’s important, but if we were given home advantage I’d prefer that was actually the case. But we can’t worry about it, it’s something outside of our control.”