Louth's Kate Flood on the impact their late manager Micheál McKeown had

June 01, 2024

Louth's Kate Flood lifts the West County Hotel Cup

By Daire Walsh

When it comes to reaching the final stages of the TG4 All-Ireland junior football championship, Louth’s Kate Flood knows more than most what is required. 

Having been part of the sides that lost third-tier showpieces at Croke Park to Limerick and Antrim in 2010 and 2012 respectively, Flood chipped in with a 1-2 haul as Louth finally got their hands on the West County Hotel Cup in 2015 — courtesy of an emphatic victory against Scotland. 

Another All-Ireland junior final appearance followed in 2018 and while Limerick once again had the measure of their Leinster counterparts, the St Patrick’s club star recorded an impressive tally of 1-8 to help Louth claim another national title — this time at the expense of Fermanagh — in September 2019. 

Following their relegation from the All-Ireland intermediate championship at the end of 2023, Flood has her sights on reaching a sixth junior showpiece later on this summer. Yet as Louth begin their All-Ireland JFC campaign with a Group B encounter against Kilkenny at John Locke Park tomorrow afternoon (throw-in 2pm), she recognises that lots of counties will come into the competition with similar aspirations. 

“That would be the end goal. Obviously there’s a lot of hard work in front of you. You take it game-by-game and obviously week in, week out. You never know, players might pick up injuries or anything like that. Obviously our end goal is to get to another All-Ireland final and get back up into intermediate championship,” Flood said. 

“Hopefully we get there, but we’ve work to do before we think that far. It’s not going to be an easy road to the All-Ireland final. We know the teams, they are going to be tough. 

“Everyone has an end goal of wanting to get to an All-Ireland final and we’re all fighting for the same thing. No team is going to be any way easy. It’s just down to who wants it more, who puts in the harder work off the field and on the field then as well.” 

While acknowledging that their 2015 success was special after the disappointing results that had preceded it, there are a couple of reasons why Louth’s All-Ireland junior triumph of five years ago remains a vivid memory for Flood. 

Having been firmly established by then as one of the most experienced faces within the squad, Flood was captaining the Wee County for the second successive year in an All-Ireland final. 

Louth had started the 2018 season with Mícheál McKeown as manager of the side, but the former Farne Rangers footballer sadly passed away following a short illness in June of that year. This meant that both the 2018 and 2019 junior deciders were very emotional occasions for Flood and her team-mates, who ultimately finished with 10 points to spare (3-13 to 2-6) against Fermanagh in the latter. 

“I was lucky enough to be captain that year. It was a tough year, but he (Mícheál) always said to me, ‘I’ll get you an All-Ireland’. He was definitely looking down on us in 2019 and got us over the line,” Flood recalled. 

“It was a special day and for the girls that were there involved, it meant that wee bit more. Having Mícheál’s wife there and obviously the whole circumstances with him. It was definitely up there with one of the proudest days for us all.” 

Whereas this weekend sees the ladies team getting their own campaign underway, the Louth men, managed by former Dublin defender Ger Brennan, began their All-Ireland group stage journey last Saturday by defeating Meath in the championship for the first time in 49 years. 

This followed up a commendable display in the Leinster senior football final on May 12, when Louth put it up to defending Sam Maguire Cup champions Dublin before eventually falling short to the Sky Blues by just four points. 

Louth secured the TG4 Leinster Junior Football Championship crown with a 2-10 to 1-5 win over Carlow at Laois Hire O’Moore Park in Portlaoise seven days later and Flood believes the impressive recent performances by their male counterparts has provided them with plenty of inspiration. 

“That’s one of the things that we said, The work-rate that the men put in against Dublin. Everyone probably had them written off from the result of the previous year, but they just showed massive courage to go out and put it to Dublin. They definitely didn’t lie down and let them get the run of themselves. 

“They definitely put the fight up and we showed that coming into our Leinster games, that we’ve to do the same against Carlow and going into the championship. We’re definitely looking up to them, because they’re really giving themselves a great chance to progress and push on in their championship campaign.” 

Though she has been a mainstay of the Louth panel for several years, Flood’s sporting talents extend beyond Gaelic football. In addition to a seven-game stint with Aussie Rules outfit Fremantle in the spring of 2020, Flood is also a gifted soccer player who represented the Republic of Ireland from U15 up to U19. 

She also enjoyed considerable success at club level with Raheny United in Dublin — playing alongside fellow Louth native and current Ireland senior international Megan Campbell — before winning the Northern Ireland Women’s Premier League with Newry City in 2015. 

Even though she ultimately stuck to Gaelic football, Flood (who works for her father’s company, Global Tiles And Bathrooms, in Newry) continues to dabble in soccer when she can and is pleased that there is an avenue for Irish players like Campbell to make a professional living out of women’s sport. 

“I would have played with a lot of the girls that are still with the Irish team now at the minute. Obviously she (Campbell) stuck to the soccer and I would have played both Gaelic and soccer at the time. I just chose Gaelic, but it’s incredible to see the opportunities that are there for girls now. Any of the sports across the board,” Flood added. 

“England is so close to us now for the soccer and it’s great to see that it’s there and that there is so many Irish girls over in England playing and getting the opportunity, and making a career out of it.” 

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