Kildare and UCD attacker, Brian McLoughlin, pictured at the launch the Electric Ireland Higher Education Championships.
Kildare and UCD attacker, Brian McLoughlin, pictured at the launch the Electric Ireland Higher Education Championships. 

Brian McLoughlin hoping to catch Glen Ryan's eye


By John Harrington

With the new condensed inter-county calendar, January is an audition month you don’t want to be missing out on.

These are the weeks when you put your hand up for selection for the quickly approaching Allianz Football League.

That’s why Brian McLoughlin is hoping to make his case to newly appointed Kildare manager, Glen Ryan, when the Lilywhites play Carlow in the O’Byrne Cup this evening.

The Clane man has been sidelined for the past six weeks with a hamstring injury and didn’t want to risk it for UCD's Sigerson Cup clash with MTU Tralee yesterday so he’d be fit for inter-county duty tonight.

He’s hoping to get 15 or 20 minutes of action against Carlow and knows he needs to make a positive impression, such is the competition for places in this Kildare panel.

“That’s the thing, I’ve been quite unfortunate with the hamstring so I haven't really got much of a chance to show what I can do, so I’m probably up against it now,” said McLoughlin today at the launch of the Electric Ireland Higher Education Championships.

“I’ll hopefully play well tonight, have a good game next week in the Sigerson, and see what we can do now to build into the league.”

McLouglin is definitely a player of rich potential as he memorably proved in Kildare’s Allianz Football League Division 2 semi-final victory over Meath last year which clinched promotion to Divisoin 1.

Brought on after only nine minutes, he produced a man of the match performance that saw him kick five points that were fundamental to Kildare’s 1-14 to 0-14 victory.

“I was on after nine minutes and I was only expecting to get the last 15 minutes or so, then Jimmy (Hyland) did his hamstring so I was in straight from the start.

“That was a great feeling, especially in such a big game, like we really targeted the league last year, so it was a big opportunity for me to play in the semi final which gave us promotion, so I’m looking forward on building on that into Division one this year.”

Despite his performance that day, McLoughlin subsequently only played a bit-part role in Kildare’s championship campaign, featuring as a substitute in the dying minutes of matches.

Brian McLoughlin celebrates with the then Kildare manager, Jack O'Connor, after the Lilywhites defeated Meath in the 2021 Allianz Football League Division 2 semi-final. 
Brian McLoughlin celebrates with the then Kildare manager, Jack O'Connor, after the Lilywhites defeated Meath in the 2021 Allianz Football League Division 2 semi-final. 

He admits he was disappointed at the time not to be given the opportunity to build on his showing against Meath.

“I suppose I was, I probably wanted a little bit more, but just little things don't go your way, you get little tweaks here and there, and all of a sudden you’re just down the pecking order, and it’s obviously a very competitive environment so I’m hoping to stay injury free this year, and when you get your chance, just take it.”

McLoughlin is part of a talented generation of Kildare footballers who won the 2018 All-Ireland U-20 Championship..

A good chunk of that team have been part of the senior panel for at least two years now, and McLoughlin admits it’s taken them a little longer than they might have expected to really spread their shoulders in the senior grade.

“Yeah, I think we were probably a wee bit naive straight after the 20s, thinking that we could all go straight in to play senior football, but you really need that extra couple of years of strength and conditioning to be a real senior footballer,” he says.

“I think it’s a massive opportunity now for us, and I think given there's more lads coming in, you see Paddy Gates in now and he’s flying there the last day, and there’s a couple more, so I think it’s an exciting time for Kildare football and hopefully now we can have a successful year again.”

Brian McLoughlin, left, and Darragh Ryan of Kildare celebrate after the 2018 EirGrid GAA Football All-Ireland U20 Championship final match between Mayo and Kildare at Croke Park in Dublin. 
Brian McLoughlin, left, and Darragh Ryan of Kildare celebrate after the 2018 EirGrid GAA Football All-Ireland U20 Championship final match between Mayo and Kildare at Croke Park in Dublin. 

The development of these young Kildare footballers will be accelerated all the more if they can survive in Division 1 of the Allianz League this year and have a sustained experience of playing against the best teams in the country.

“Yeah, I think that's where you want to be doing,” says McLoughlin. “You want to be playing the top teams week in, week out, because you really get to find out a lot about yourself playing against the top teams, and you get an exposure to obviously a better talent of players.

“So I think it's really important to stay in Division One and be playing against the top teams week out, you get more comfortable and confident playing against them, and obviously, you bring on your own game as a result of that.”

McLoughlin says there’s “a great buzz” in the camp since Glen Ryan was appointed manager and is happy to dream big for the year ahead.

The defeat to Dublin in last year’s Leinster Final is still a source of regret because it felt like an opportunity missed, and the Clane man hopes they’ll get a chance to go one better this summer.

“Last year our preparation was very good, and in the camp we all thought we could beat Dublin, we expected to give a good performance and we expected to beat them, so I don’t think we ever feared Dublin as such, it was just a matter of getting over the line, and hopefully this year we get another good crack at them, and can hopefully do one better.”