There is no substitute for honest endeavour and the Louth Minor Football Panel that travelled to Parnell Pk. on Friday night to take on Dublin had it in abundance.
Missing a number of players who are involved with the Dundalk Schools team, it did not deter them as they took the game to their more fancied opponents and gave as good as they got for fifty five minutes until a late flurry of scores earned Dublin a five point winning margin.
Louth had a number of players who played particularly well in this game and also a number, as is to be expected, who will need more game time to settle into county minor football.
The visitors needed the goals to stay in touch in the first half and to go ahead in the second but they came from good moves and were clinically finished. The teams were level after twenty minutes and Dublin had a two point interval lead.
In the first twenty minutes though of the second half, it was Louth who had the better of the possession as they outscored Dublin by 1-4 to 0-3 to go two points ahead.
But the Dubs finished the game the stronger and three points in the last five minutes and two more in added time gave them a five point winning margin.
Dublin had better possession early on and their half back line and mid field pairing of Patrick O’Higgins and Ronan Noonan providing a good supply to their attack.
The Louth defence was under pressure from a fast moving attack but they held firm and with Dermot Campbell and Daniel Grimes holding the middle they helped the corner and wing backs to gradually settle into the game.
Niall McCabe, Conor McMenamin, Thomas McCann and Fiachra Sheridan soaked up some pressure as did substitute Leo McGrane but they typified Louth’s “give it your all” approach to this game and they helped to limit the forwards to just two points from play in the entire game.
The Dublin full forward line was dangerous throughout and the formidable Ciaran Kilkenny at full forward converted nine frees from all angles.
Robert McCabe eased himself into the game and started to win good possession against the strong Dublin pair and when Martin Breen joined him before half time they did very well around the middle of the field.
The Louth forwards were never short of possession but they didn’t threaten the Dublin goal to any extent in the first half. Too many shots were poorly struck and dropped short or cut out by a vigilant defence. James Traynor and Michael Kane, who had to retire after 25 minutes with an injury was replaced by Anthony Lynch. Along with Jamie King and Gary Shevli, they were very committed against a strong defence.
The first Louth score on eight minutes was special. John Horan and Jamie King were combing well and were forcing the defenders to clear under pressure and concede the free. When Conor Smith hit the quick free long to John Horan he gathered superbly and blasted to the net to level the game. The twenty minutes to the break were evenly contested and the standard of play was reasonably good for a first game, Dublin were to add three points but Louth managed just one from a forty nine metres free from Robert McCabe.
Louth’s best period in the game was the opening twenty minutes of the second half. They had the better of possession and the better chances. Dublin had to resort to fouling to contain some good attacks and Robert McCabe from forty two and twenty five metres and James Traynor from twenty converted frees.
Jamie King’s effort hit the upright and had this gone in it would have had a big effect on the game. Dublin had just two points in the period and both were soft scores. Substitute goalkeeper Conaire Quigley committed a foul as the ball was going harmlessly wide and lack of concentration from a side line ball gifted them the other. Conaire made amends later by denying Dublin a goal with a very brave save.
Robert McCabe scored another long range free to level the game again and following a good passage of play Emmet Leavy played a precise long pass to John Horan who was under severe pressure from the full back but he managed to break the ball and volley it on the turn to the corner of the net. Louth were a goal to the good with twelve minutes to go.
It took Dublin ten minutes to haul back the lead and then with five minutes to go Louth were coming under pressure after fifty five minutes of hectic effort and Dublin managed to find another gear to build up a five point winning margin.
In the absence of the players from the Dundalk Schools team these lads were given a tough assignment and they didn’t let us down.
A game can be analysed in too many ways but it sufficient to say about this Louth performance that it was a committed one full of honest endeavour.
This same panel will get another chance to impress against Laois at a Louth venue on Saturday, March 12. Star performers against Dublin would play themselves onto any county minor team and the rest of these lads will relish another chance to impress. They deserve it.
Dublin; Lee Stacey; Eoghan Boyne, Matt McCaffrey, Brendan Bentley; Mark O’Dea, John Small (0-1), Conor Pike; Ronan Noonan (0-1), Patrick O’Higgins; Kevin Kindlon, Eric Lowndes (0-1), Emmet O’Conghaile; Eoin Archibald (0-1), Ciaran Kilkenny (0-9, 9f), Scott Fulham (0-1).
Substitutes: Gavin Ivory (0-2) for Ronan Noonan (45mins), Graham Hannigan for Mark O’Dea (50mins), John McCaffrey for Matt McCaffrey (50mins), Neil Flannery for Eoin Arhibald (53mins).
Louth: Jamie Mulholland (Naomh Mairtin); Niall McCabe (St Fechin’s), Dermot Campbell (Dreadnots), Conor McMenamin (Dk Young Irelands); Fiachra Sheridan (Glyde Rangers), Daniel Grimes (Glen Emmets), Thomas McCann (St Patrick’s); Robert McCabe (St Mary’s) (0–4. 4f), Conor Smith (Naomh Mairtin); James Traynor (Wolfe Tones) (0-1, 1f); Martin Breen (St Patrick’s) Michael Kane (Cooley Kickhams); Jamie King (St Fechin’s), John Horan (Wolfe Tones) (2-0), Gary Shevlin (Dk Gaels).
Substitutes; Anthony Lynch, (Dreadnots) for Michael Kane (25 mins), Leo McGrane, (St Fechin’s) for Conor McMenamin (35mins); Emmet Leavy (St Mary’s) for Gary Shevlin (39mins); Conor Grogan (St Patrick’s) for James Traynor (50mins).