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'Female Gooch' Ní Mhuircheartaigh leading from the front for high-flying Kerry ladies

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Kerry's Louise Ni Mhuircheartaigh. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Kerry's Louise Ni Mhuircheartaigh. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

Kerry's Louise Ni Mhuircheartaigh. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Thirteen seasons into her Kerry senior career, Louise Ní Mhuircheartaigh continues to be one of the most dangerous forwards around, but the Ballyferriter native is far from content and still has a long list of ambitions in the game.

Her primary objective is to lead Kerry to victory tomorrow when they host Tyrone in their fourth Lidl National Football League outing of the season, and if this one goes like the first three, Kerry will be well on the road to a second Division 2 final in a row.

Their unbeaten start to 2020 has seen Ní Mhuircheartaigh score 5-7 of her side's tally as wins against Cavan, Wexford and Armagh means they lead the chasing pack, but after two years in the second tier she feels it's time for the 2017 Munster champions to graduate again.

Tomorrow's game in Fitzgerald Stadium (11am) is the opening act of an attractive double-header with the Kerry and Meath men's teams, and 28-year-old Ní Mhuircheartaigh says they are keen to impress.

"We started back this year with new management and it has been very fresh and positive since.

"Getting a good start to the league was the aim and having three wins from three is just fantastic. We are hoping to build on that now," says Ní Mhuircheartaigh, who plays with her local Corca Dhuibhne club.

Bonus

"We have had a lot of girls making their debuts in the last few weekends, which is a real bonus. There has been a lot of change this year with Darragh (Long) and Declan (Quill) coming in. A few experienced players finished up but the young players are fighting hard and there is a great buzz there again.

"It's always special when you play in Fitzgerald Stadium, and playing before a Kerry men's game as well is great. We have a task on our hands and we can't let the big occasions get to our heads too much.

"The crowd will gather as the game goes on but you don't notice that. Hopefully we can put on a great show for everyone, perform well and come away with the points."

As her surname suggests, Ní Mhuircheartaigh is a native Irish speaker. She was born in the Kerry Gaeltacht on the Dingle peninsula, and although she went to school in Dingle, she is quick to correct the record as to her heritage.

"Dingle are the rivals; I'm from the Gaeltacht - Ard na Caithne, Ballyferriter," she says. The Irish language remains the cornerstone of her life. Irish continues to be the spoken language at home, and was the only language spoken in her early years.

Consequently, she decided to pass the love of her native tongue on to the next generation and has worked as an Irish and PE teacher at Mercy Mounthawk in Tralee for the last five years.

"We had Irish all the time growing up. It was in primary school that myself and my brother learned English. We had no English at all until we were about five. That's our life. You come home at the weekend and it's all Irish we speak around the place. People are always asking if I think in Irish and I do - they find that fascinating. It was our first language, so that's what you think of."

During her time studying in UCC, where she won an O'Connor Cup in 2012, she was tagged as the 'Female Gooch' and she still dissects footage of the Killarney man.

"The Gooch is something else, he's in a different category than everyone else. I've looked up to him for years. The girls in UCC started that name, but if you thought too much about the weight of carrying it you'd be a nervous wreck."

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