Passionate Reds rumble the Royals to reach final
GAA BORD NA MONA O’BYRNE CUP
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.