Despite seeing his side dismantled in such emphatic fashion by a dominate Meath team on Saturday night in Breffni Park, Louth boss Peter Fitzpatrick stated that he wants to stay on for a third term at the helm of the county’s senior side.
Louth sensationally crashed out of the Leinster Championship against Carlow in the quarter-finals in what was considered a major upset. Then on Saturday night, they were dumped out of the Championship as Meath inflicted a nine point defeat on the Wee County in the first round of the qualifiers. Despite the disappointing end to the season, Fitzpatrick wants to stay on.
The manager has guided the team to four finals in the past two years, two O’Byrne Cup finals, a Division Three final and of course the Leinster final.
Louth have only won one of these four finals and on Saturday night in Cavan, any chance they had of making a run in the qualifiers came to an end as Louth tamely bowed out of the Championship at the hands of bitter rivals, the Royals.
In the corridors below the stand at Breffni Park, a sombre atmosphere hung around the Louth dressing room, one which was a mirror image of the scenes that followed the Carlow match in O’Moore Park, Portlaoise.
Fitzpatrick had no qualms with the result, insisting that the better side won, but in a bid to move on, he turned his thoughts to next year.
“I got a three year term. I am enthusiastic as ever”, said the manager.
“There’s a great bunch of lads in there. If the county board are happy with me, I am happy to go forward.
“I feel as though I could do a runner and let them go ahead into Division Two and get relegated next year, but I am not a coward.
“I was waiting 14 or 15 years to manage my county and it was one of the proudest days of my life when I got the job.
“All I hope is that I get the opportunity to finish the term. Whether I do or not is in the county board’s hands. I am trying to keep the management team together. I think getting to four finals in two years, I think we have achieved a lot.”
Fitzpatrick also said that he looks forward to taking a stab at teams in Division Two next year, but before that, he wants to meet the board about the availability of a pitch for Louth.
Louth’s inability to use home advantage came back to haunt them on Saturday night as embarrassingly, they had to relinquish home control and play the game in a neutral venue. As a result, fans were left with a long trip home, too long considering the result of the match.
“Division Two football is something to look forward to next year and I will sit down with the County Board and I think a big emphasis will have to be to talk about the facilities in Louth. We had home advantage today but couldn’t take it. There’s a few things on the table and we will see if we can help at all.
“But to play Division Two next year, we need our own pitch and stadium. It’s an awful shame that we got Meath in the qualifiers and we could not take advantage of it.”