Carlow Ladies manager sets sights on junior football title this weekend
Gerry McGill became the first manager to lead the Dublin Ladies team to an TG4 All-Ireland senior title in 2010 - now he is hoping to conjure a similar trick with Carlow.
Carlow have four Leinster junior titles to their name but they’ve yet to make a breakthrough at national level.
Of immediate concern to McGill is next Sunday’s Leinster Junior decider against Louth, when Carlow will aim for a second provincial title in three years.
But standing in their way at Netwatch Cullen Park (12pm) is one of the top teams in the country at this grade.
Lidl Division 4 semi-finalists this year, All-Ireland JFC runners-up and League final runners-up last year, Louth are challenging hard for success.
Louth also beat Carlow in the 2018 Leinster Final – but McGill says his squad are looking forward to the challenge in their home patch.
“We are coming off the back of good preparation and we’re just looking forward to it now,” said 40-year-old McGill.
“You are never guaranteed when you will play in a final again so the girls are excited by the challenge. We are playing against what’s probably the best team in the junior championship in Louth.”
After winning their first four Division 4 games this season, Carlow looked destined to reach the knock-out stages, but they were turned over in their remaining games and missed out narrowly. They were well beaten by Louth in the penultimate round of League fixtures, but as an experienced manager, McGill knows you only see a team’s class in the summer.
“I’d be relatively happy with how things have gone. Ten minutes into the second-half against Louth we were level, we gave possession away inside our own half and they got a goal. Straight from the kick-out they got a second and that killed the game as a contest."
“You try and learn from those experiences and the girls have taken a lot on board in the last few months. The hope is to get as far as we can. The Junior Championship, there are six teams in it now and they’re all evenly matched. We’ll see how it goes.”
McGill is a Donegal native, who has managed Dublin and Tipperary ladies teams, while he was also previously involved in the set-up with the Tipperary men’s team alongside manager Peter Creedon.
After retiring as a player, he took charge of Éire Óg in Carlow, but injury in the squad meant he pulled on the boots again last season. This year he is still playing with the Donegal Masters team.
“My association with Carlow goes back 15 years or so. I was in Carlow for a year and I played with Éire Óg and played with the county team too that year. When the job came up it was an area I knew well so it was natural to go back."
“We’re now good enough, we’re a team that has a lot of new players introduced and it will be interesting to see how they adapt to championship at this level. I think we’re well capable of doing well.”