Geraldine McLaughlin’s scoring exploits take some beating

Donegal star a huge factor in the success of her college, club Termon and county

By now 'prolific' should be Geraldine McLaughlin's middle name, the 22-year-old Donegal Gaelic footballer the possessor of a remarkable scoring record over the years for college, club and county. Only last week she amassed 4-12 for Letterkenny IT in their 4-15 to 3-15 victory over Blanchardstown IT in the All-Ireland colleges final. The Business Management student was quick to bat away the ensuing attention, though.

So, Joe Brolly posted the video of you on Twitter getting all those scores for Letterkenny and asked if you were the country's greatest Gaelic footballer. Would you say yes?
Ah now, I don't think so!

But your scoring record has always been extraordinary, has it been like that since you first started playing?
I was always a scoring forward since I was younger, but growing up I would never have paid any heed to what I was scoring, at the end of the game I wouldn't even know. As I always say, it doesn't matter who gets the points so long as you win the game.

But do you just find it easy? Ah no, I never did, it took a lot of practice. My brother-in-law was a forward too and when he started coming around the house I'd play with him and just keep working on becoming better.

You started playing when you were seven, was football a big thing for your family?
No, there was 11 of us in the house and only three of us played, the younger ones. One day Harry McGlynn, from our club, went around the houses asking if any of the girls want to play for the club. When he got to ours, Mammy said 'you'll be lucky to get any footballers out of this house'.

It turned out that it was worth knocking on your door, though – in December 2014 you captained Termon to the All-Ireland club title (she had scored 22-27 in the six games leading up to the final, and then 3-8 on the big day against Cork's Mourneabbey) – a magical day?
Ah definitely, it was just unbelievable, everyone in the parish was there, cheering us on. There aren't many in Termon anyway, but there was nobody left there that day. Even people with no interest in football were there.

Describe Termon.
There are two shops, a bar and restaurant, a chapel and a football pitch. So, you can just imagine how small it is. The whole team grew up together, we're all friends, so that made it extra special.

And you played soccer too? You were called up to the senior squad in 2013.
I was going well, but then I did my cruciate ligament, so it was time to pick one or the other. I used to play for Castlebar so there was so much travel, there was too much pressure, it finally got to a point when I wasn't enjoying it as much. I had to make a choice, and it wasn't that hard choosing. I really just played soccer for a bit of craic, I never took it that seriously, so it was always going to be Gaelic.

And the choice must have felt right last year when Donegal won its first senior Ulster title?
And the year before we had nine defeats in a row! But then Davy [McLaughlin] came in and saw the potential in us, he brought us all together, there was a great team there, and he saw the potential to go further. It was a tough year and a half, but it paid off.

It's hard for us because Donegal is so isolated, people move away to go to college in Galway or Dublin or wherever. There's so much travelling to do, so it's really hard for them to make the commitment. We even had girls travelling over from England. We can't train until 9.0 on a Friday night because we're waiting for people to come back, and that's hard for the people at home, waiting around. But that's just the amount of commitment you have to put in.

And it looks like it's paying off so far in the league this season, you're through to Saturday's Division Two semi-finals against Cavan. Is it critical for Donegal's championship prospects to get back in to Division One?
Definitely, playing teams who you're beating well isn't doing you much good. You need to be playing against the best week in, week out to get you ready for the upcoming championship.

And presumably that's the ultimate ambition, to win a senior All-Ireland title with Donegal?
I'd love to, we're on the way forward. but we've another couple of years to go, I'd say. The general standard is getting better very year, you don't see many games now where there's a hammering, there are much more competitive counties than a few years ago.

Ulster alone is much tougher now, there are four counties that could easily win the title. So it’s getting harder. But yes, winning the All-Ireland with Donegal is the dream.