“We are just looking to win the game.” That’s the words of Shane Lennon and it seems to be the motto for the whole Louth team as they prepare to meet bitter rivals Meath.
Speaking to Lennon and the Louth players this week, it is clear that the motif of revenge is not on their minds. Instead they have their eyes on what really matters, a place in the second round of the qualifiers, knowing that nothing more than a win will do.
Whilst supporters and people around the country are building it up as a grudge match of epic proportions, Lennon and co are keen to avoid the media circus surrounding the game and instead focus on the game plan and getting through to the next round.
“Last year is over and done with. We’ve said that many times. The way we are looking at it is, we have to prove ourselves after losing to Carlow. The final does not come into it.
“We have to bounce back from the Carlow game and pick things up.”
The Louth full-forward scored six points in the game against Carlow but it was not enough to bring them through to the next stage as Carlow came out eventual winners, 0-14 to 0-13.
Back to the drawing board, Louth must plan an assault on the Championship, but Lennon insists focus is the key to do so.
“We have to go into the game like we did against Kildare or Westmeath and have our eyes firmly fixed on this one game.”
Looking back at the Carlow game, Lennon could not put his finger on why Louth did not do more than they did in the game.
“It was very disappointing for us. We were not good enough from one to 15. The whole team just did not perform. Maybe we got complacent, I don’t know.
“It’s hard to know where it went wrong but it did.
“At the start of the year, the Leinster Championship was our main goal and focus. That is what we were aiming for. Now, we are hoping for the best possible run in the Championship that we can get as it’s the All-Ireland Championship now and that path now.”
One thing Lennon insists is that it was not down to lack of preparation or detail, citing that the team were perhaps more prepared this year than they were last year when they went into the final.
But whatever it was, Louth could not defeat Carlow and ultimately the Barrowsiders booked their spot with Wexford in the semi-finals.
“We were probably ten times more prepared than we were last year. We had the work done on Carlow and we worked very hard, but it just didn’t happen on the day.
“Perhaps they caught us on the hop, just as Kildare did last year when we faced them at the same stage. But we have to look at Kildare last year, see what they done after we knocked them out and regroup like them and hopefully make a similar run.”
The Kilkerley Emmets forward knows that Louth must enter the game in the right frame of mind to have any chance of progressing to the next round of the qualifiers. Knowing full-well that they cannot use revenge as a strategy for last year’s Leinster Final defeat, Lennon is keen to see Louth put it to the back of their heads and enter the game in the right frame of mind.
“The way we are looking at it is, we have to win to get into the next round. It didn’t matter who our opposition was in this rounds, that’s just the way it is.
“If we go in with the right frame of mind, we have a chance, but if it’s the same than it was against Carlow, then we know we will have no hope.”
After the Carlow game, there’s places up for grabs in Peter Fitzpatrick’s side as the likes of Ronan Carroll and Andy McDonnell certainly made an impression when they were introduced at half time.
The two players most likely gutted to be left out but certainly made their impressions felt when they got onto the pitch.
“There’s lads busting to get into the starting 15 and we have been going hard in training as lads are trying to get their place. Some of the boys probably thought it was harsh that they did not make the team, but unfortunately, you can only name 15.
“Andy and Ronan were gunning for places and were disappointed not to make it, but when they came on, they showed the hunger that the rest of us will have to show this week against Meath.”