Wicklow's Laura Hogan ready for another All Ireland decider
By Cian O’Connell
“I remember during lockdown I actually stuck my All Ireland medal from 2011 in the kitchen on a little board,” Wicklow footballer Laura Hogan recalls about four months without competitive sport between March and July.
“So any time I was feeling a little unmotivated that would be there and I'd be like go out there, that you'd have a chance to do this at some stage, whether it is this year or next year. You do the work now and hopefully it will pay off some day.”
Now Hogan is busy preparing for a TG4 All Ireland Ladies Football Junior Final against Fermanagh at Parnell Park on Saturday.
In those times when no sport was on the agenda how difficult was it without participating? “It was really tough because you are training nearly five nights a week with teams,” Hogan replies.
“So it was really hard to get used to training on your own. Personally I didn't find it too bad, I used it to work on the things I had to work on, the weaknesses I had.
“I thought it was also refreshing, but at the same time it gave you the love you needed to get back out on to the field. That just drove you on again.”
Having survived without games for such a lengthy stint, is there a greater respect now? “You definitely appreciate it more,” Hogan says.
“You miss not just playing football, but the friendships and the bonds you make, preparing with a team. You miss all of that. You definitely get a new found love and a new found appreciation for playing.
“We are all so thankful that we can play with all going on being in Level Five and now going back to Level Three. We are just so happy to be able to get out to play, we are so thankful that we can. It has given the Championship a renewed lease of life.
“If you look at the mens, it has been one of the Championships to talk about for years to come. Not because of Covid, but because of all of the upsets. It has been fantastic in one sense, obviously for the Championship, but not with what is going on.”
Hogan’s work life altered dramatically during the pandemic too, but she is delighted that school resumed in September.
“Definitely, being in school and teaching in school is a lot easier than teaching online, I can tell you that,” the Holy Family, Rathcoole teacher responds. “We are just so happy to be back in, the kids are so happy to be back in, they are all doing so well.
“Wearing the masks and teaching socially distant is becoming the norm, we are getting used to it now. It is our second nature. The students and teachers have adapted really well, huge credit to them.”
Hogan has given a decade of service to the Wicklow alongside her sister Sarah. “That 2011 win has obviously been the main highlight of my playing career to date,” she admits.
“Obviously captaining Wicklow to this stage is up there with that as well. If we can do the job on Saturday, then obviously that would be the pinnacle of it all.
“But we are just going out to play the game, because you can’t get carried away with everything. While it’s all fantastic you have to have to stay grounded and stay focused on the task at hand.”