Aidan O’Rourke is unlikely to be doing handstands following the success of the Louth team in his first game in charge. Indeed, I don’t think he’d even do a handstand if his side won the All-Ireland. He’s that kind of guy, laid back in the extreme.
All the same, he’d be pleased that his tenure got off to a winning start. And more pleased, no doubt, if enough points are garnered in matches with Meath and Longford over the next few days to extend the O’Byrne Cup run right up to the beginning of the National League.
O’Rourke and his sideline team experimented for Sunday, and they’ll probably continue to do so over the coming weeks. Their team for the joust with UCD included several getting their first taste of senior inter-county, while some of the more experienced were given roles they wouldn’t have had under previous regimes.
A big winning tally was racked up, but the scoreboard was far from lobsided. Though short a number of those expected to play a part in Third Level colleges’ All-Ireland, the Sigerson Cup, UCD troubled the Louth defence, scoring 1-13. The students would have won had they a full-forward line as lethal as Louth’s.
Darren Clarke, Jim McEneaney and David Reid were the men closest to the UCD goal. Between them they came in with all but three points of their side’s 2-15, Clarke leading the way with an impressive 1-7.
Come to think of it, all Clarke did in this season’s opener was continue his good run of last year, when he scored more than anyone else in the red jersey. He must often question why he hadn’t a more permanent place on the side in recent years, but that’s by the by; though now the panel’s senior citizen, he has still lots to offer, and O’Rourke will surely want to facilitate him.
Clarke’s Malahide St Sylvester’s club-mate, Mark Brennan, must make up his mind where he wants to be, on the field giving a dig-out, or on the line digging his heels as a consequence of being sent off. His dismissal on Sunday was his second in successive county games, following last year’s All-Ireland qualifier with Westmeath. He has more to give than that.
O’Rourke will want to give Jackie Agnew a second, maybe even a third, look, and could have him in mind for the league. Highly thought of in the O’Connell’s club, the young lad cut a dash on coming on in the second half.
There’ll be more experimenting at Pairc Tailteann tomorrow night, and again at Drogheda on Sunday.