Greg wants Laois of life

by Stephen Findlater

GREGORY McGonigle says that Leinster has missed a big opportunity to promote ladies football but insists this will not have a major impact on his Dublin side as they get ready to meet Westmeath in O’Moore Park, Westmeath on Sunday at 4pm in the provincial final.
Over 1,700 signed a petition to request the tie be pushed back a week later and put on the Croke Park bill where Dublin and Westmeath will also meet in the Leinster men’s senior football final.
And McGonigle says that is a lost chance, especially when these kind of moves have been commonplace in other province.
“Coming from Derry and having managed in Ulster, it’s not the first time that they have done it [put the two games together],” he told GazetteSport. “Monaghan ladies played Armagh in front of Monaghan’s men in Healy Park in 2011; we also played in front of Donegal and Tyrone when we met Tyrone in Ballybofey.
“It seems to be a continuous thread. When Ulster GAA organise their championship, they do it as a combined unit of ladies’ football, camogie, hurling and football. As much as we knew it probably wouldn’t happen this year, it’s maybe something to force down the line.”
While the chance to play in Croker is not happening, McGonigle says the focus in his camp will not lessen in any way as his Dublin side are hungry for more honours.
And he would specifically like the people who signed the petition to back up their actions by travelling to Portlaoise.
“The group of players are delighted they are in a Leinster final. If it’s in Croke Park, it would have been brilliant; if not, it’s not going to affect us in Portlaoise.
“The key thing now is the people who bothered to sign the petition and raised their concern – let’s get off the couch and away from the shopping trip and let’s get a 1,000 people there. The men’s footballers aren’t there, the hurlers aren’t on. Why wouldn’t you bring the sons and daughters along?”
His side is facing a Westmeath that they beat comfortably in Cusack Park in the group stages of the Leinster championship. McGonigle knows, though, that Sunday will be different gravy.
“If they improve by 50%, we have to go up by 50%. We believe our first touch can definitely improve; our work rate can go up. We pride ourselves on hitting targets and our tackle count wasn’t up as high as we wanted. It’s something we will focus on.
“Our conversion rate and shot selection, too. If we look after the targets we have and get close to them, that should look after the result.”
He will be without Muireann ni Scanaill who is a couple of weeks away from a return from injury while Fiona Hudson has a niggle sustained in the club championship last week.
But he has been impressed by the impact of the like of Siobhan Woods and Sorcha Furlong since moving from defence into midfield. Ciara Ruddy has done well off the bench, too, in all three group games and McGonigle says the use of the whole panel is crucial.
“Like the men, it’s about the people coming off the bench and adding to the team and this is something we do talk about.”

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