Long way back for Louth ahead of trip to Tipp

AL­LIANZ LEAGUES Arthur on fire as Reds stay in ti­tle race

The Argus - - SPORT - JOHN SAV­AGE

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.

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