AFTER being on the losing side twice against Tipperary in 2009, Louth’s Ray Finnegan knew what to expect when the Premier County visited Drogheda on Sunday.
The last time they rolled into town, Tipperary dumped Louth out of the Championship in the qualifiers, ending a miserable annus horribilis for the Wee County.
Keen not to let this happen again, Finnegan and co set out not only to grab two vital points in the race for promotion, but to make amends for that day in Drogheda just over a year and a half ago.
Speaking of the win, Finnegan said: “It was a vital one.”
He added: “We were behind midway through the second half, we pulled it back and then went on ahead. We knew if we kept it tight at the back, got some possession, work it forward, we would hold on for the win.”
When Tipperary forged ahead on 53 minutes, 1-10 to 1-8, it looked ominous for Louth as the game was slipping from within their grasp. But they battled back into it, sealing a dramatic win, something Finnegan puts down to his side sticking to the plan.
“Midway through the second half, they went ahead of us, it kind of steamrolled on us, but we kept battled back and got into it ourselves, getting the points we needed to win. It was a good win.
“You look at two years ago. They beat us in Semple Stadium and then came up here and beat us in the qualifiers. We knew they are a tough team, a big physical side so we knew what to expect. We just had our gameplan and tried to keep to it and it worked out for us.”
Early in the first half, Louth conceded a soft goal as they failed to clear their lines, something Finnegan acknowledged.
“It was probably our own fault with the goal, we tried to work it out of defence. They came in and closed us down well and we lost it. That’s where the goal came from, but thankfully we got back into it.
“We got a goal back ourselves, Shane with a great finish down the far end so it’s something to work on.”
The introduction of JP Rooney with 17 minutes remaining was critical to Louth’s revival.
“Well JP is clever, he’s always out in front”, said Finnegan. “He knows just where to go and knows the ball will always come to him. It’s great to have him there to stick him on. He’s probably unlucky not to start, but everyone is playing as a team and everyone is keeping at it so it’s good to see.
“It’s working on a few things, trying to keep possession, keep the ball. If you have the ball, they can’t do anything with it so it worked out in the end.”
Wexford away is the next task for Fitzpatrick’s side as they travel to Clonard, knowing that Wexford are joint top with themselves.
“We are always looking to win our home games and then do well next week against Wexford away. If we win our home games and pick up some points away from home, we will be doing well at the end of the season.
“Wexford is always a difficult place to go. It’s never easy and it is always tougher away from home, so going down to their field will be difficult.”
Louth will hope that as many fans as possible travel to the game, especially after roaring the side on to the win in Drogheda.
“It was great to see it. There was great support there in the stand and it’s great to hear them cheer you on from the field. It does spur you on.”