SO far so good for Louth’s hurlers after Paddy Kelly’s men picked up their second emphatic win in successive games by easing past newly promoted Monaghan in Darver on Sunday.
The Reds sit proudly on top of the Allianz National Hurling League Division 3B and head to Fingal in two weeks looking to make it maximum points from three games before taking on fellow pace setters Mayo at home the following week.
After hitting 3-20 against Sligo in their opening game, the Wee County picked up where they left off by blitzing their neighbours with 1-12 in the first 35 minutes alone before going on to hit another 2-16 in the second period.
Tough road ahead
Tougher tests await Kelly’s side but the Meath man will be happy with his side’s impressive scoring after two outings.
Youngster Brian Corcoran again caught the eye with another impressive display. The Mattock Rangers man has arguably been Louth’s best performer since they started their campaign in early February against Roscommon in the Kehoe Cup and he took his league tally to 2-8 with another good haul of scores here.
Diarmuid O’Sullivan is another who has made a huge impact in a red jersey.
The Knockaderry man, brother of midfielder Donagh, helped Louth on their way with a goal inside the first 20 seconds of play and alongside Corcoran and Gerard Smyth, he formed a razor sharp front-line for Louth.
In contrast, Monaghan were very poor and offered little to test Louth. Early points from midfielder Stephen Lambe gave them hope after falling behind to O’Sullivan’s goal but Lambe’s 9th minute free, his third of the game at that stage, proved to be their last of the first-half as Louth took the game by the scruff of the neck.
Diarmuid Murphy put the Wee County into a five point lead after 12 minutes when he picked up possession in the midfield area before smashing the ball over the bar. This followed on from scores by Shane Callan, Brian Corcoran and a brace of Gerard Smyth frees.
Monaghan had chances to stay in touch but they hit four wides against the swirling breeze. Louth made them pay for their wastefulness with Corcoran having a hand in three points in quick succession, scoring two and making one for Darren O’Hanrahan.
A period of scrappy play followed but Louth were back on the scoreboard in the 27th minute when midfielder Shane Callan fired over from play. Smyth then punished Monaghan with two frees in quick succession before O’Sullivan put the bookend on a fine first half display by scoring the final point of the half to give Louth a 1-12 to 0-3 advantage at the break.
Monaghan were offered no respite in the second-half as Louth moved through the gears. O’Sullivan opened the second-half as he ended the first before David Dunne saw a good chance well saved by Monaghan goalkeeper Hugh Byrne. Byrne could only watch on helplessly seconds later though as Smyth’s long range free sailed over the bar.
The Farney County’s woes continued as they wasted two more good chances to put some scores on the board before centre-half back Jim McHugh was given his marching orders by referee Declan McGee in the 47th minute.
The result had been put beyond any doubt just 60 seconds earlier when Corcoran cut in from the right to weave past two defenders and hammer the ball to the net for a wonderful solo effort. The youngster then added another goal five minutes later, collecting a David Dunne pass to volley the ball past the helpless Byrne.
Monaghan hit a consolation goal late on when Gary Boyd took control of former Louth player Trevor Hilliard’s pass to beat James Connolly but Louth finished strongly with Donagh O’Sullivan and Shane Callan adding further scores before Lambe put some sort of respectability on the scoreline with a last gasp free.
Scorers: LOUTH - Brian Corcoran (2-3), Diarmuid O’Sullivan (1-2), Gerard Smyth (0-6, 6f), Shane Callan (0-3), Diarmuid Murphy, Donagh O’Sullivan, David Dunne, Darren O’Hanrahan (0-1 each).
MONAGHAN – Stephen Lambe (0-4, 4f), Gary Boyd (1-0).
LOUTH: James Connolly; Mark Wallace, Conor Kerrigan, Adrian Wallace; Domhnall McArdle, Ronan Byrne, Diarmuid Murphy; Donagh O’Sullivan, Shane Callan; Shane Fennell, David Dunne, Darren O’Hanrahan; Diarmuid O’Sullivan, Gerard Smyth, Brian Corcoran.
Subs: Brian Hassett for A Wallace, 44 mins; Paddy McCormack for R Byrne, 49 mins; Cathal Ryan for S Fennell, 49 mins; Wesley Morrissey for G Smith, 57 mins; Aidan Callan for Diarmuid O’Sullivan, 57 mins.
MONAGHAN: Hugh Byrne; Alan Lambe, Paul Murphy, Peter Treanor; PJ Boyle, Jim McHugh, Padraig Dowdall; Trevor Hilliard, Seamus Roche; Stephen Lambe, Gary Boyd, Eanna MacSuibhne; Ronan Meegan, Michael McHugh, Brian McGuigan.
Subs : Martin Murphy for E MacSuibhne, 50 mins; Johnny McAnespie for PJ Boyle, 55 mins; Aengus MacSuibhne for R Meegan, 60 mins; Fergal Rafter for B McGuigan, 67 mins; Ronan MacAteer for H Byrne, 67 mins.
Wides: LOUTH – 12 (Six in first-half), MONAGHAN – 7 (four in first-half).
REFEREE – Declan McGee (Down).