FOOTBALL: ZuCar Golden Boot winner Nerney – “It’s going to be hugely difficult”
By DARAGH SMALL (Laois star Mo Nerney with her 2022 ZuCar Golden Boot award at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile)
Laois ace Mo Nerney says this year brought the O’Moore County together and they feel like a family as they prepare to take on the might of Meath and Dublin next year.
Laois were crowned TG4 All-Ireland Intermediate champions after victory over Wexford at Croke Park on 31 July.
And Nerney scored 1-5 bringing her personal tally to 5-31 (46 points) meaning she claimed the ZuCar Golden Boot award for 2022 – having finished as leading scorer in the TG4 All-Ireland Championships.
But the 28-year-old Timahoe forward knows it’s all about the collective after a stunning campaign for Donie Brennan’s side.
“If you are playing a team sport it’s about being part of a team. It’s lovely to get an award like this but at the end of the day the main thing was bringing home the Mary Quinn Memorial Cup,” said Nerney.
“Over the last couple of years we have been building under our manager, Donie. He has really brought a togetherness with the girls. I would have played with a lot of the girls all up along underage, and there are new younger girls that I wouldn’t have played with.
“But everyone now just gets on so well and there is a great bond between the team. It is literally like one big family. You are out training three or four nights a week. You are seeing them more than you would be seeing your own family.
“And it meant everything to win. That was our aim when Donie came in first. Laois went down to intermediate in 2017 so it has taken five years to get back. But our main goal last November was to get to the All-Ireland intermediate final.
“We did that and it was a great day, it was a great day for the people of Laois as well. There was great excitement around the county building up to it and even after it“
And now you are going around to the clubs and the schools. We forget that a lot of younger people wouldn’t have any experience of Laois winning anything.”
However, it only gets more difficult for Laois next year when they step up to the senior ranks, with the reigning All-Ireland champions Meath and their great rivals, Dublin, in Leinster.
“It’s going to be hugely difficult. You are playing senior teams that are going be stronger, more physical, some teams will be more defensive,” said Nerney.
“Dublin and Meath are going to be first off and we know it’s going to be a huge challenge. “But what stood to us this year, in Division 2 of the Lidl National League, we were playing a lot of senior teams and we got a lot of practice matches this year against senior teams and we didn’t fare out too badly.
“But we know it’s going to be a huge step up to senior and we will prepare as best as we can going into pre-season again in a couple of months. Our main aim is to compete.”
Mo Nerney was speaking on Wednesday (14th September) after receiving the ZuCar Golden Boot award, as leading scorer in the 2022 TG4 All-Ireland Championships. Nerney’s Laois team-mate, Eimear Barry, also received the Golden Glove award, introduced in 2021 to acknowledge goalkeeping excellence. Barry’s wonderful save to deny Wexford’s Aisling Murphy in the TG4 All-Ireland Intermediate Final won the popular vote on the LGFA website.