Pas­sion­ate Reds rum­ble the Roy­als to reach fi­nal

GAA BORD NA MONA O’BYRNE CUP

The Argus - - SPORT -

OUT with the old and in with the new! Louth foot­ballers threw off the shack­les and put self-doubts and in­fe­ri­or­ity com­plexes firmly be­hind them as they out­smarted their fierce ri­vals in this O’Byrne Cup semi-fi­nal at Pairc Tail­teann last Sun­day.

To say that the Wee County bul­lied their op­po­nents might be stretch­ing it but they cer­tainly got in their faces and were by no means flat­tered by the seven point mar­gin of vic­tory.

The prize for Colin Kelly’s troops is a lu­cra­tive clash against a group of Dublin foot­ballers who don’t do hol­i­days in Jan­uary, in the fi­nal at the Gaelic Grounds this Sun­day.

In essence Louth did what Meath had been do­ing to them for years. They grad­u­ally ground the hosts into sub­mis­sion and even when the Roy­als threat­ened a re­vival they didn’t flinch. In­stead they drove on, adding a goal and three points in suc­ces­sion to put the con­test out of reach.

The dis­missal of Meath wing back Alan Forde prob­a­bly had an ef­fect on the mar­gin of vic­tory but hardly the out­come as Louth bossed the ex­changes in all the vi­tal sec­tors of the pitch.

How­ever for long spells in the open­ing half Louth seemed de­ter­mined to press the self de­struct but­ton. They dropped four ef­forts short be­fore mid­fielder Tommy Durnin burst through for their open­ing score on 15 min­utes. That tally had risen to seven by half-time but cru­cially Louth were ahead 0-4 to 0-2 at the break and were hunt­ing in packs as they moved in for the kill.

At var­i­ous stages Louth had 15 men be­hind the ball but they broke at speed and their short pass­ing game was im­pres­sive for this stage of the year. Sub­sti­tutes Jim McE­naney and Sam Mul­roy im­pacted greatly through­out the sec­ond half with the young Naomh Mairtin man un­for­tu­nate not to find the net shortly af­ter his in­tro­duc­tion.

Apart from a brief spell in the sec­ond half, dur­ing which they reg­is­tered four suc­ces­sive points, Meath were com­pletely out of sorts in what was a re­al­ity check for rookie boss Andy McEn­tee. Donal Keogan was the only one to of­fer any sort of re­sis­tance and while Gra­ham Reilly tried his best he was re­peat­edly stopped in his tracks by fair and some­times foul means.

Tommy Durnin and the im­pres­sive Andy McDon­nell cruised the mid­field ex­changes while Derek Maguire pro­duced a manof-the-match dis­play with surging runs which yielded three points. An­thony Wil­liams also got on the scor­ing from wing back while Durnin hit two points, both in the open­ing half.

There was no short­age of drama how­ever in what was a typ­i­cal Jan­uary af­fair. Ref­eree David Moore (Laois) was kept busy through­out and he flashed one red card, two black and eight yel­lows over the course of a hard-fought en­counter.

And just to add fuel to the fire there was also an ap­pear­ance by Joe Sheri­dan, the man whose goal in the Le­in­ster fi­nal on July 11th 2010 rel­e­gated An­dres Ini­esta’s World Cup win­ner for Spain to the in­side pages of the na­tion­als news­pa­pers.

Sheri­dan, a born again goal­keeper, re­placed Jack Han­ni­gan be­tween the posts for Meath af­ter the Don­agh­more/Ash­bourne man had been pe­nalised and black carded for an off the ball foul on Sam Mul­roy, re­sult­ing in a Louth penalty near the fin­ish.

The rous­ing cheers that greeted Sheri­dan far out­num­bered the jeers but his first task was to pick the ball out of his own net af­ter Jim McE­naney crashed the spot kick past him with venom.

Louth took con­trol of pro­ceed­ings fol­low­ing the dis­missal of Forde af­ter sev­eral play­ers got in­volved in a melee when Gra­ham Reilly was fouled. Four suc­ces­sive points be­fore the end of the half and four more fol­low­ing the restart left Louth lead­ing 0-10 to 0-4 and in a healthy state.

In­deed that lead should have been more but Donal Keogan took an ef­fort off the goal line when Conal McKeever should have scored and Han­ni­gan pro­duced a fine block to deny Mul­roy at the ex­pense of a 45 which the young­ster con­verted.

The ar­rival of Conor Downey and Cil­lian O’Sul­li­van her­alded a Meath re­vival and with Downey point­ing twice that six point lead was whit­tled down to two. The home side then had Ruairi O Coileain black carded and cru­cially Louth hit the next score, a rasp­ing ef­fort from Derek Maguire which was de­flected over the cross­bar by the ag­ile Han­ni­gan.

Mul­roy from a free and Andy McDon­nell from play stretched the lead fur­ther be­fore McE­naney ended it as a con­test with that penalty goal. LOUTH: Craig Lynch; Padraig Rath, Pa­trick Reilly, Kevin Carr; Derek Maguire 0-3, Liam Dul­laghan, An­thony Wil­liams 0-1; Tommy Durnin 0-2, Andy McDon­nell 0-2; De­clan Byrne 0-1, Paraic Smith 0-1, Be­van Duffy; Conal McKeever, Ro­nan Car­roll, Ger­ard McSor­ley. Subs: Jim McE­naney 1-1 (1-0 pen) for Car­roll (31), Sam Mul­roy 0-3 (1f, 1 ‘45) for McSor­ley (38), John Bing­ham for Reilly (50), Adrian Reid for McKeever ((59), James Ste­wart for Dul­laghan (64), Ross Nally for Smith (67), James Califf for Durnin (69).

MEATH: Jack Han­ni­gan; David McQuil­lan, Donal Keogan, Sean Cur­ran; Sea­mus Lavin, Brian Power, Alan Forde; Bryan Men­ton 0-1, Cian O’Brien 0-1; Ruairi O Coileain 0-3 (2fs), Gra­ham Reilly, Ea­mon Wal­lace 0-1; Kevin Ross, Paddy Ken­nelly, Sean Tobin 0-1 ‘45. Subs: Conor McGill for Cur­ran (32), Conor Downey 0-2 for Lavin (38), Cil­lian O’Sul­li­van for Ross (40), Bryan McMa­hon 0-1f for Tobin (40), Shane McEn­tee for O Coileain (BC, 58), Donal Leni­han for Wal­lace (64), Joe Sheri­dan for Han­ni­gan (BC, 67).

REF­EREE: D Moore (Laois)

Louth’s Be­van Duffy goes full stretch to block a Ruairi O Coileain shot dur­ing Sun­day’s O’Byrne Cup semi-fi­nal at

Louth’s dis­play gets the thumbs up from John Bing­ham.

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