Fresh from winning her first All-Star last weekend, Galway’s Louise Ward is hoping to tick another item off the bucket list at the Gaelic Grounds in Limerick on Saturday evening.
Having comfortably disposed of Dublin and Leinster giants Foxrock/Cabinteely in the last four, Ward’s club, Kilkerrin/Clonberne, are seeking a maiden All-Ireland Club Ladies SFC crown at the expense of champions Mourneabbey.
If they are to achieve that goal then it, Ward knows they must avoid the mistakes that saw them lose to the Cork side in the 2015 and 2018 semi-finals.
“Last year, to call a spade a spade, we were physically beaten. Mourneabbey would be a fairly physical team, but they can play football as well. Last year we had nine points from nearly 30 scoreable chances,” Ward explained in Croke Park yesterday.
“In 2015, we lost by a point. I think we had 13 wides. You regret those missed chances as well. They know us well and they’ll have their game plan implemented, but hopefully we can exploit a few areas. We need to be a bit more clinical and avoid that physicality. If we bring the ball into contact they can turn you over so easily.”
It proved to be a memorable evening for the Ward family at the Citywest Hotel on Saturday as Louise and sister Nicola became just the second twins — following Waterford’s Martina and Geraldine O’Ryan in 1992 — to receive All Stars awards in the same year.
Club-mates Lisa Murphy and Olivia Divilly were also nominated on the night, but the spectre of an All-Ireland decider ensured there were limited celebrations amongst Kilkerrin’s county contingent.
When Ward and her generation were going up progressing through the ranks at Fr Stephen’s Park, it was former Galway great Annette Clarke they looked to for inspiration.
An All-Ireland winner with the Tribeswomen 15 years ago, she also enjoyed national intermediate glory with her club in 1999.
Despite bringing the curtain down on her glittering inter-county career in 2016, Clarke continues to play an influential role at full-forward for Kilkerrin/Clonberne.
After claiming a brace of points in the Connacht final against Kilbride, she further highlighteshowed her quality by grabbing a first-half goal in the emphatic 5-12 to 2-10 triumph against Foxrock/Cabinteely.
“That’s the one person I’d love to win an All-Ireland for,” said Ward. “We’d all love to do it for her. She’s playing very well, even though she’s 37. She’s the person we all look up to and she’s the person who sets the high standards.
"We all try to get there up to her standard and if you’re doing things that are right by her standards, you know you’re doing something right.”