Big task for Louth against the Dubs - Fitzer

The victory over Westmeath on Sunday was a close call, with Louth looking under the cosh for large stretches of the game.

The victory over Westmeath on Sunday was a close call, with Louth looking under the cosh for large stretches of the game.

But Louth manager Peter Fitzpatrick knows the enormity of the challenge his side face in the next round against the Dubs.

“We’ve got a big task ahead of us now.

“We’re playing in two weeks against the reigning All-Ireland Champions.

“It’s everyones dream to play in Croke Park against the All Ireland Champions. People think we’re just going up to make up the numbers.”

Speaking after Sunday’s match Fitzer stated how difficult the first match in the championship is.

“The hardest game in any Leinster Championship is always the first game.

“We’ve played Westmeath five times in the last three years and we’ve beaten them five times. “Whether it was Westmeath or Louth that won today, they were going to give Dublin a good game in two weeks.

“We’re looking forward to the Dublin game. We’ve a chance to recuperate now and we’ve Dessie Finnegan coming back from his honeymoon next Thursday and hopefully the panel will get stronger and stronger.”

At times Louth rode their luck on Sunday and the Louth manager believes it was richly deserved given previous bad fortune.

“People might say we’ve been lucky, but I’m involved in football a long time, if the luck is there you take it.

“Whether you win by a point or ten points it’s still the same thing.”

The introduction of St Patrick’s youngster Daniel O;Connor heralded the arrival of the late match winning goal and Fitzer was full of praise for the full forward.

“Danny trained with the panel for the last four weeks and when Brian White and Donnelly left, I took three or four of the U21’s in and that was the main reason he came in.

“We went to Bundoran last week for a training session and Danny was probably he most outstanding forward we had.

“So we knew he was there. But it’s very hard for a young fella to come into a game like that there and he did a great job for us.”

The long stoppage near the end, due to a serious injury to Westmeath’s David Glennon, came at just the right time for Louth.

“I think it was hard on both teams, but I was delighted when the referee said there’d be eight minutes added on.

“We knew ourselves we still had ten minutes to play. In fairness if you look back over the last number of years, when a Louth team has been behind by a few points with a few minutes go they panic, but this team played outstanding football, I thought they played a fantastic brand of football and Westmeath are a very tough physical team.”

Pat Flanagan’s Westmeath side almost caused what would have been looked upon as an upset and if they had had more luck it would have been so.

And Fitzpatrick was quick to applaud Flanagan and his side.

“I have to put my hands up and say that Pat Flanagan did a fantastic job in preparing Westmeath, they were very hungry in the second half they dominated the first 20 minutes.

“We were nonexistent. But the commitment from this Louth team is second to none. They train very hard.

A tactic which Fitzer used throughout the league campaign appeared to reap dividends on Sunday as well.

“One thing we’re not afraid to do is empty the bench. We had Danny O’Connor who’s only 22 years old, we saw him play football a few weeks ago and we put him on the panel and he came on and scored the winning goal.”

No matter what criticism can be levelled at Louth’s performance on Sunday, Fitzer knew that the result was more important.

“I can make excuses, but at the end of the day Louth won by a point and we’re playing in Croke park in two weeks time and that’s the bottom line.

The game’s not over until the final whistle blows and we’ve found that out the hard way over the last number of years.”