AFTER a hard fought victory, one they had to fight tooth and nail for, Louth manager Peter Fitzpatrick said that it was one of the best ‘team’ victories that he ever saw from Louth.
Despite not being up to scratch for large parts of the game, Louth managed to leave the Gaelic Grounds with the win.
Paddy Keenan got the plaudits from some as his two points late in the game, first dragged Louth level and then pushed them ahead, but Fitzpatrick hailed the win as a team performance.
“I’m not going to single out any players”, said Fitzpatrick. He added: “After the Westmeath game last week, I knew this team had something great.
“It took 18 players today to win this game. To me, it’s a team performance. Paddy Keenan is the captain, he leads by example, but I tell you one thing, with ten minutes to go, Tipperary were up by two points and everyone thought Louth was down and out, but this team has great character and in fairness, the turning point was bringing on JP Rooney.
“He came on, held the ball up, laid the ball off and the save Sean Connor made in the second half as well. The whole team contributed.”
Despite being below par, Fitzpatrick thought it was a great performance as his side showed their back bone and grit. Last year, they lost games in the Allianz League in the final minutes, so this side showed some maturity in getting the win.
“I honestly thought it was a fantastic performance”, said the Louth boss.
“One thing I am never going to do in Louth, I’m never going to slate players who play voluntarily for their county. Them boys want to play for Louth, and in fairness you saw that today. They worked, they chased, they hassled and everything else. It was the same situation in the O’Byrne Cup final.
“We were two or three points up but this time, we didn’t panic. We looked around, there were boys looking for the ball, chasing and hassling. To me, this is probably the best win since I took over the team.”
Fitzpatrick expected Tipperary to come in full of confidence after beating Louth twice in 2009, once in the league and then they dumped Louth out of the qualifiers.
“I was talking to John Evans during the week and the last two times Tipperary played Louth, they beat us. They came in very cocky. This Louth team though is afraid of no team at the moment.
“I know we have four points on the board, but there is a long, long way to go.
“I said from day one, it’s very important for us to win our home matches and today, the crowd was magnificent.
“They never doubted us for the whole game. To me, that’s worth two or three points. I have to be honest, I thought it was one of the best Louth performances since I took over.”
This year, compared to last year, Fitzpatrick said the secret is that every Louth player is defender, from the corner forward to the corner back and everyone looks for the ball.
“They chase, they hassle, they tackle. That performance would put a tear in my eye. It was a vintage performance. It might not have been the best performance from a Louth team, but it’s the best performance from a team point of view.
“One or two players may not have performed today, but yet again, the other boys made that extra step. It’s a team game and the team goes forward.
“The most important thing is that we go on and beat Wexford next week. If we can keep this winning run going, we have a great chance of promotion. There is nothing won so far, we are not getting carried away but we are playing as a team and as a unit.”
Fitzpatrick now hopes to get 12 points from the league, as he thinks that will be enough to get Louth promoted.
“To me, that’s two big scalps gone at the moment, but they mean nothing if we don’t go out and beat Wexford next week.
“We have to go out and play the way we did today, and it will take a good team to beat us. We are not getting overconfident or anything, it’s just I believe in the team we’ve put together.
“At training, 27 lads are there and we are having a good run at the moment and I hope the supporters travel down next week to see us.”