For Louth manager Kit Henry, Sunday’s trip to Clare will be solely pivoted on getting his side’s promotion challenge back on track, although some of his players may feel that they have a personal point to prove given their former supremo, Wayne Freeman, now holds the reins of the Banner.
Kildare-native Freeman guided the Reds out of Division 4 during his three seasons in charge, although there were struggles during his closing term at the helm and Louth almost tumbled back into the bottom tier.
However, since Henry has succeeded the Monasterevin man, the Wee women have leapt into contention at the third tier’s summit, winning their opening four matches before succumbing to fellow top-two contender Wexford in Darver last time out.
It was a match that Louth could have won and so they will be travelling to the south-west determined to grasp another three points against a team who they overcame at Cusack Park, Ennis, in last season’s intermediate championship.
Clare were considered to be among Division 3’s leading teams before a ball was thrown-in but have been quite inconsistent so far, losing to both Kildare and Wexford. However, their win over Down in round five was eye-catching and another favourable outcome against Louth would place Sunday’s hosts back among the promotion pack.
In Kate Flood and Laura Collins, Louth are a prolific, two-pronged attack that has been ripping opposing defences asunder thus far. The pair then have Cooley Kickhams’ Lauren Boyle and Niamh Rice for company in the forward department, making it a fearsome foursome.
However, if anybody knows what these players can do apart from Henry and his coaching ticket, it’s Freeman and his second in-command, Lee Hunt, who have been keeping a close eye on the happenings in Louth since their departure, after forging strong relationships with many in this part of the world.
Henry, though, doesn’t appear to be a manager who places a great deal of value in his opponents, instead focussing on his own side’s preparations and he has used his squad to great effect so far, never fielding the same XV for a match to date. His alterations have involved the removal of captain Áine Breen from midfield and into a more forward capacity and it remains to be seen if the Cortown man will continue to adopt this approach.
There are stalwarts, though, with Shannen McLaughlin, who captained the Reds under Freeman, as solid as a rock at centre-back and flanked by the equally impressive Caitlin O’Reilly, who was included in the squad during Freeman’s tenure but didn’t play, and either Mia Duffy or Aoife Russell.
Aoife Halligan is a shoo in at midfield as are Flood and Collins up top. Other than Rebecca Lambe-Fagan in goals, however, nothing else is set in stone, or so it would seem. That is how Henry rolls.