Laois manager Tom McKittrick has admitted that Ulster champions Monaghan present a “tough, tough prospect” for his side in today’s TG4 All-Ireland Ladies SFC quarter-final.
Laois, fresh from their impressive victory over Meath in last Saturday’s qualifier, face a Monaghan team that has not played a competitive game in almost five weeks.
"We didn’t stop to think too much. We just went out and played" - Tom McKittrick
The Farney County won a fourth successive Ulster title with a 15-point victory over Tyrone and despite the long layoff, they will start as favourites to advance to a third All-Ireland semi-final in a row.
Dublin native McKittrick insisted: “Monaghan have always been right up there with Cork. Everyone talks about Cork but Monaghan were unlucky not to pinch an All-Ireland in recent years.
“They’ll be focused on this game and won’t worry about gaps between matches.
“This is our first year as a management team in Laois but Monaghan are a project and have been working hard on getting themselves to the top.
“They’ll be a tough, tough prospect and they will expect to get to the semi-final and final.
“We’re under no illusions about the task that lies ahead but we have some excellent players and a team ethic. We’ll bring that to the table.”
A Laois victory would see them back in an All-Ireland semi-final for the first time since 2011 and while McKittrick was pleased with last weekend’s effort against Meath, he reflected: “There are things that we would like to work on, the same as any team.
“We didn’t stop to think too much. We just went out and played. That was the great thing. We were considering subs but people were playing well and we didn’t want to take them off for no reason.”
The Laois-Monaghan tie is the second game of today’s double-header at Kingspan Breffni Park at 6pm.
Before that, Connacht champions Galway, beaten All-Ireland semi-finalists last year, tackle a depleted Tyrone at 4.15pm.
"For now, it’s about getting the result but for the future it's about stability" - Brian McGee
Remarkably, the Red Hands have suffered a spate of cruciate knee ligament injuries in six weeks.
Dearbhla McCallan, Patricia Conroy, Joline Donnelly, Nicola Donnelly and Shannon Quinn have all suffered the dreaded injury and are facing up to extended spells on the sidelines.
But joint-manager Brian McGee insists that Tyrone, fresh from last weekend’s qualifier victory over Clare, won’t fear Galway.
He declared confidently: “We are happy to have avoided the likes of Monaghan and Cork in the quarter-final. I think we will be good enough to get a result against Galway and reach the semi-final.”
McGee admitted that the losses of such key players hampered preparations but he is confident that others will grab their opportunities to impress.
He said: “I know we have lost so many players but the players we do have available have and will step up to the plate.
“For now, it’s about getting the result but for the future it's about stability.
“We need to have this established squad and build along with them.”
Emma Hegarty picked up a hefty knock in the Clare game but she should be available and Tyrone have reported no fresh injury issues.