A much depleted Louth team face another clash with old foes Westmeath in the All Ireland Qualifiers on Saturday June 30.
The draw was made yesterday morning and it sees Peter Fitzpatrick’s much changed side face another daunting match against Pat Flanagan’s stubborn midlanders.
Having only just overcome Westmeath in the opening round of this year’s Leinster Championship, thanks to a late Danny O’Connor goal in Navan, many will feel that Westmeath are due a win this time around.
In the past number of weeks the Wee County has been rocked with a series of emigrations and injuries that have cast a serious doubt over their attempts to progress further.
Dublin dumped the Reds out of the Leinster Championship in early June and since then Louth have lost both Derek Maguire and Liam Shevlin to America.
Having played each other six times in two years, with the Wee County triumphant on each occasion, full forward Darren Clarke feels that Westmeath will be out for revenge and with home advantage given to Pat Flanagan’s side, they’ll go in as favourites.
“It’s six times now in the last two years that we’ve met each other, but we’ll be wary going into this one and after the game in Navan they’ll be out for revenge.”
Despite the changed squad, Clarke is hopeful that players on the periphery of the team can “step up to the plate.”
“We’ve good players in Louth and although it’ll be very tough, we’ll go to Cusack Park wth confidence.”
Clarke himself is a major injury concern having aggravated his hip flexor muscle recently.
The Ardee native struggled in recent club championship matches and has been forced to rest it for the past week.
However Clarke is hoping that intensive physiotherapy will improve it in time for the Westmeath clash.
“It’s a niggling injury, which happens to a lot of free takers”, explained Clarke.
“It hinders me when I’m place kicking the ball on the ground. But I’m going to have to battle on.”
According to manager Peter Fitzpatrick, Paddy Keenan has been unable to play since the Dublin match and Gerard Hoey is also carrying an injury.
Fitzer was also informed yesterday morning that Geraldines forward Jim McEneaney is injured, although there is no word yet on the severity of that injury.
The Louth team gathered for training last night (Monday) for the first time in two weeks were Fitzer planned to organise a startegy to combat the Westmeath threat.
“We’ve training tonight and we’ll watch the DVD of the last game and put together a game plan.”