LOUTH’S Minor team are back in action this week, just a little under a month since their destruction of Meath in the first round Leinster Minor Championship.
Trying to keep the momentum going has been a job for Thomas McNamee and the management squad after Louth beat Meath 1-13 to 1-11, back on May 16.
Since then, the management team have been keeping the squad on their toes, with a series of challenge matches, but the real thing comes again this Saturday in Portlaoise when they face Laois in the quarter-finals of the competition. The game will act as a curtain-raiser to the Loais v Antrim Leinster Senior Hurling Championship and McNamee thinks that his side will relish the occasion.
“They know there are bigger things to come if they win this match. There will be less pressure on them, being away from home and with exams coming up for a lot of them, a win would give them something to look forward to after exams.”
For McNamee though, the month has given him both good and bad news as regards injuries. Half-back Sean Thornton is fit again, as is livewire forward Conall McKeever, but Dermot Campbell (groin), Paddy Reilly (knee) and James McConnon are all doubtful.
“We are fortunate though as we have a squad of up to 40 lads and the reason why the first 20 were so good against Meath was because the other 20 pushed them all the way in training.”
McNamee also thinks that the amount of work they have done on formations, positioning and tactics will pay off.
“Since March, we have played a number of Challenge Matches. We have not worked too much on their fitness because we think that’s there already. But the amount of matches we have played could put us in good stead as they know what to do, when to do it.”
The manager thinks that against Meath, his side showed a new found maturity and confidence, even when Meath came back at them.
“When Meath came at us, we always looked comfortable. They never looked as though they would have crumbled under pressure. We are lucky in that regard as they seem very mature, they don’t panic.
“What we are doing is, we are picking lads who are on form at the minute, so if you are playing well, then you will start and that’s the way it should be.”
Laois beat Carlow in the first round of the Championship and like Louth, they have been waiting patiently for their next match, but McNamee knows that his side have it all to do once again.
“We played them in Darver earlier this year and I think they will fancy their chances. We could be forced into making four changes from the Meath match due to injuries, but I have no problem making them as the lads coming in are just as good.
“They will have home advantage, but in the league earlier this year Dublin give them a good beating so if we can expose any skeletons there, we will.”
Throw-in is 5.15pm in Portlaoise.