And so, Wee Meath again

HERE we go again!

HERE we go again!

It’s Louth versus Meath, but this time, there is no Delaney Cup at stake. At stake this time is pride and a place in the second round of the All-Ireland Championship qualifiers as both teams try to re-ignite their seasons after exiting the Leinster Championship at the quarter-final stages.

On Sunday, Louth were shell-shocked as Carlow dumped them out of the Delaney Cup hunt when Brendan Murphy’s last gasp injury time point was enough to send Carlow through. Meath were knocked out by Kildare a week ago.

For Louth, there is a lot at stake in the game. After being humbled by Carlow, they will be looking to make a decent run in the Championship, but throw in the fact that it is Meath they are playing and Louth have another goal, getting their long awaited revenge over the Royals for what happened in last year’s Leinster Final.

Joe Sheridan’s goal needs no explanation to anyone in the country, never mind Louth and the tie is certainly due to attract a huge attendance.

It is for this reason that the game is to be played in Breffni Park.

As supporters made their way home from O’Moore Park in Portlaoise, news emerged that the two sides were drawn together in the first round of the qualifiers.

Louth were drawn as the home side, but with the capacity in the Gaelic Grounds standing at 4,000, the CCCC were forced to change the game to a neutral venue as a crowd of over 20,000 is expected to pay in to see the much-anticipated clash.

The game will take place on June 25, with a throw-in time of 7pm. It will be preceded by Cavan’s game with Longford.

Louth’s players were due to go back to their clubs on Tuesday night with a return to training scheduled for Thursday, but after hearing the draw, boss Peter Fitzpatrick has called his players back early as he prepares to finally get one over Meath.

Speaking on Monday afternoon, Fitzpatrick said: “I could not believe it when I heard the news as I made my way home from the ground. I just couldn’t believe it.”

However, Fitzpatrick has stated that if he needed any help or motivation in lifting his players, then this was certainly it.

“It’s the draw we wanted and it’s the draw that probably the whole country wanted.”

Louth were extremely disappointing in their clash with Carlow and Fitzpatrick hopes they can resurrect the form they showed in stages of the Allianz League earlier this year when they take on the Royals. One thing he knows though is that it will be different than last time.

“Meath are a different team now. They have some new players, a new manager and they play differently, so it will not be the same. But we both know, if we are to stay in this competition, we have to win.”

Looking back on the Carlow game, Fitzpatrick thought that Carlow’s last four points were fantastic and really turned the game upside down. But after drawing Meath, a lot of the attention has turned away from the Carlow game.

“Their last four points were exceptional, but the Meath draw has took a lot of the focus away from it. I thought we did not do ourselves justice against Carlow and play the way we know we can play. We’ve no one else to blame but ourselves, but we have another shot now.”

Fitzpatrick will encourage his players to take a lot of Kildare, who Louth eliminated last year at the quarter-final stage in the Leinster competition. The Lilywhites responded brilliantly, getting to the All-Ireland semi-finals, where they were beaten by Down.

In the meantime, the Louth boss wants to see something done about a home venue in Louth as the game had to be switched to Cavan due to the unsuitability of the Gaelic Grounds.

“It’s disappointing that we don’t have a home venue. It has to be looked at in the future and we have to get something sorted.”