Long way back for Louth ahead of trip to Tipp
ALLIANZ LEAGUES Arthur on fire as Reds stay in title race
NIALL Arthur was the star of the show yet again as Louth triggered the trap door on basement boys Longford at Pearse Park on Sunday.
The win moved the Reds up to joint second in the table with Roscommon and two behind leaders Warwickshire.
The Exiles still have to play the Rossies, in their final game so a win over Mongahan in Castleblayney on Sunday could clinch a final spot for Louth.
They need Warwickshire to win or draw to pip Roscommon, while a big Rossies win might also do the trick depending on how the score difference plays out.
Arthur certainly did Louth a favour in that department on Sunday, chipping in with an astonishing 4-12 of Louth’s impressive tally of 4-17. LONGFORD hung in well until they lost Cathal Mullane to a straight red card just before the break, but Arthur signalled his intent fro the off, firing home his first goal after just 20 seconds. FIGHTING for their lives Longford really made a game of it in the first period and actually took the lead late in the half when Joe O’Brien tucked away their third goal, but Louth managed to tack on a couple of late scores to lead by the minimum at the break, 1-8 to 3-1.
BUT against 14 men Louth took control after the break and Arthur led the charge with some superb goa;s and points.
Longford battled to the end, but Louth held out for what could be a vital victory. LOUTH: Stephen Hackett; Mark Wallace, Mike Lyons, Conor Matthews; Stephen Kettle, Ronan Byrne, Andrew McCrave; Donal Ryan, Mark Molloy 0-2; Shane Callan, Gerry Arthur 0-1, Gerard Smyth; Seaghan Conneely 0-1, Niall Arthur 4-1 (6f, 1 ‘65’), Paddy Lynch 0-1. Subs: Diarmuid Murphy for Callan (57), John Crosbie for Smyth (61), Michael Ryan for Ryan (70)
LONGFORD: Conor Gallagher; Karl Murray, Seamus Hannon, Gerard Moore; Dáire Duggan, Paddy Walsh, Aidan Sheridan; Seán Stakelum, Paul Barden; Paddy Corcoran, Daniel Connell (0-1), Jody Leonard; Joe O’Brien 2-4 (2-0 pen, 2f), Cathal Mullane 0-1f, Johnny Casey 0-1. Subs: Reuben Murray 1-0 for Stakelum (20), PJ Masterson for Corcoran (22), Paul Leonard for Barden (52), Ray O’Brien for Walsh (69), Cian McLoughlin for Moore (70)
REFEREE: Chris Mooney (Dublin). IT’S a long way to Tipperary at the best of times, but it will be a particularly gruelling trek for Louth on Sunday as they bid to arrest a run of four straight defeats.
Relegation is a mere formality after Sunday’s 12-point defeat to Roscommon left the Reds three points adrift of second-from-bottom Meath, and four points from safety - with just three games remaining.
Experienced defender Derek Maguire knows in his heart that the game is up in terms of surviving in Division 2, but he insists the Reds have to keep digging deep in a bid to turn their season around.
Tipp can still have a say in the promotion race, but are also looking anxiously over their shoulder, with the second relegation spot still wide open.
It’s all a far cry from 12 months ago when Louth plundered a shock win in Thurles to secure their second successive promotion.
Tipp joined the Reds in Division 2 two weeks later, but there has been much uphev-upheval in the Louth camp in the meantime and Maguire insists that hasn’t helped.
‘It’s a very different scenario [to last year]. Twelve months is a long time, especially in football,football, but all we can do is go down and try and get a win.
‘Whether it’ll help us stay up at this stage remains to be seen but all we can do is just try and get results and just push on from there.
‘The results have very disheartening but we’ve got a great group of lads here who never throw in the towel. We keep pushing on and pushing on, but after two promotions we lost a few players.
‘That’s not obviously the reason we’re losing games but we could’ve had a more seasoned team. We’ve had to blood new players and it’s going to take time for lads to settle into the team. You’re not going to get anywhere going to training with your head down so we have get back training on Tuesday and push on and look forward to Tipperary. We’ll try and get a result there and maybe that’ll lift the mood.’
It’s very disheartening but we’ve got a great group of lads there who we never throw the towel. We keep pushing on and pushing on, but after two promotions we lost a few players. That’s not obviously the reason we’re losing but we could’ve had a more seasoned team. We’ve had to blood new players and it’s going to take time for lads to settle into the team. You’re not going to get anywhere going to training with your head down so we have get back training and push on and look forward to Tipperary. We’ll try and get a result there and maybe that’ll lift the mood.’
After three defeats Sunday’s clash with Roscommon was make-or-break and Maguire was bitterly disappointed with the start Louth made.
‘We knew today was going to be a turning point in our league campaign either way. We were hoping to get off to a good start and unfortunately we didn’t and we were playing catch up. That makes it very hard especially against a team like Roscommon when they get a few points up on you. It’s very hard to turn that around.
‘Teams at this level with better game management can hold them few points up and they make it very difficult for you to come back.
‘You put such a big effort in and you’re always committing men forward, that it leaves you open to the counter attack. And if you go asleep at all they can put four points over in the space of three or four minutes. Roscommon did it today, Cavan did it and so did Cork.
‘We need to be getting the scores and be killing the ball when we get up front. We were maybe within touching distance of pulling the game back a few times, but they caught us on the counter a few times, scored a few points and it’s quite disheartening when that happens, but like I said division 2 football is ruthless.
‘I think the average score to win games in division 2 is 18 points. I don’t even think we’ve scored 18 points this year so I think 12 to 13 is the most we’ve scored so it is something we’re working on.
‘We’re probably committing too many men forward trying to get scores and then we’re leaving too many gaps in defence and letting teams get scores so it’s kind of a catch 22.
‘Tipperary next week is going to be very tough too, but we just have to go there and try to get a good start and just kind of build for the championship now,’ he added.
Louth’s Anthony Williams is knocked to
Ryan Burns puts pressure on Roscommon’s Peter Domican.