LOUTH defender Declan Byrne is calling on his side to use Kildare as their inspiration for the rest of the campaign.
In 2010, Louth defeated the Lilywhites in the quarter-finals of the Leinster Championship en route to a historic final.
The shock of exiting the Leinster competition at such an early stage though did not deter the Lilywhites as they regrouped and stormed through the qualifiers, reaching an All-Ireland semi-final where they were eventually defeated by Down.
Now, Byrne wants his side to replicate the form of Kildare and hit the ground running.
“After we knocked out Kildare, they came out and lifted it, Kieran McGeeney lifted them and they had a great year. There’s no reason at all why we cannot do something similar and pick it up.”
Looking back on the Carlow game where the result had the same sense of shock as Louth’s win over Kildare in 2010, Byrne still does not know where it all went wrong.
“It’s hard to put our fingers on what happened that day. Perhaps it was a bit of complacency that set in, I don’t know.
“No disrespect to Carlow, but on the day we simply did not turn up. We ave no excuses but Carlow’s last three points were exceptional points.
“From one to 15, we were not good enough on the day.”
Byrne was one of the men really in the firing line from the early stages of the game as he, along with Aaron Hoey and Dessie Finnegan had to deal with a surplus of ball coming into Carlow’s full forward line.
“We were under a lot of pressure in the first 20 minutes. It seemed balls were coming at us the whole time, but these things happen sometimes.”
Now, Byrne, along with the rest of the players face a massive task this week, lifting the spirits for Meath, with a place in the second round of the qualifiers at stake.
The fact that it’s Meath has added an extra little bit of spice with all players chomping at the bit, trying to stake a claim in the first 15.
“The competition for places has been great all year. It’s no different this time round. The Meath game has given us all a lift, but at the end of the day, it’s not about revenge at all, it’s another game for us and that’s how we are treating it.
“We have a point to prove after the Carlow game. This is our chance to prove it to our supporters and ourselves, that’s how we are looking at it.”
Looking back, on the way home from O’Moore Park seemed like a nightmare trip for the team but shortly into the journey, the news filtered through that it was Meath and that Louth would get a crack at their bitter rivals. It certainly changed the atmosphere on the Anchor Tours coach.
“There were a lot of smiles when that was announced to the lads”, said Byrne.
“Everyone was depressed but that gave us a bit of a lift”
Last year, Byrne was on the pitch against Meath when the Joe Sheridan goal was scored. That day, he came on in the wing, but this year, he has been deployed at corner back. Coming up against Meath, the St Mochta’s man does not care where Peter Fitzpatrick wants to play him, once he is in the starting 15.
“There’s only 15 men that can start, so I will take anywhere. You play where you are put, so I just hope I get the nod.”