IF Louth are to win promotion to Division Two of the Allianz League this year, it will come as a result of hard work.
Post match on Saturday night, Peter Fitzpatrick was delighted with the work rate of his players, not only in McGeough Park, but in training on Tuesday and Thursday nights in Darver.
Despite playing in horrid conditions, Louth adapted well, taking the game to Westmeath in the first half, despite playing against a ferocious wind.
Leading by a point at half time, they went on to use the wind to their advantage in the second half, ensuring that they claimed two vital points in the hunt for promotion.
“The last three to four weeks, we have been training really hard Tuesdays and Thursdays and that’s the conditions we have been training in”, said Fitzpatrick. “They have given me great effort.”
He added: “I’m just really proud of the performance from them. We lost the three boys to Australia and we have been trying to fill those gaps.
“We came in for a lot of criticism for the game against Kildare, but I know they are a good bunch of lads and they are always trying.
“Our next game is Tipperary next Sunday and we will start all over again and hope to get back to back wins.”
Louth led by 2-3 to 0-1 after 15 minutes, but then suffered a little as the elements took their toll, but despite this, Fitzer liked what he saw in the first half.
“I thought for the first 15 to 20 minutes that the Louth team played fantastic. Then all of a sudden the wind and the rain got very strong, but in fairness, I thought we tackled and hassled in the middle of the field very well.
“I was very happy with the first half performance. I know we were eight points ahead and at half time, it was only a point, but at half time, Brian Donnelly came on in the middle of the field, adding that extra bit of steel and he got a point straight away. It was a fantastic all round performance.”
Derek Maguire and Shane Lennon found the net for Louth yet again this season as Fitzpatrick singled them out for tireless performances. He also stressed the importance of a Louth win, considering Westmeath had not won a league game in over two years.
“Derek and Shane had a fantastic first half performance against the wind and they worked very hard. Paddy Keenan and Ronan Carroll worked hard to get the ball to them.
“We worked hard and with 15 minutes to go in the first half, we seemed to change the pattern of play, we lost a couple of balls. We started to do silly things but at half time, we started to get ourselves together again.
“The most important thing was getting two points against Westmeath. They have not won a game in the last two years and we didn’t want Louth to be their first win.”
At half time, Fitzpatrick replaced Ronan Carroll, bringing in Brian Donnelly who was bizarrely substituted after just 25 minutes in Newbridge in the O’Byrne Cup Final.
It paid off as with his first touch, Donnelly pointed, setting off a series of scores for Louth that put them on the path to victory.
“People don’t realise, we play games every Tuesday and Thursday so we play lads who are in form on Sunday. We took Brian off after 25 minutes in Kildare.
“He didn’t put a big hump on his back. I told him at half time that we were putting him on. I told him what we wanted him to do and everything we asked him to do, he done it and he changed the game for us.
“Listen, we are not going to get too excited. We know if we can win six out of seven games in the Allianz League, we get promotion to Division Two.
“Tonight is a step towards that and Tipperary are next, they are going to be a hard, physical game and it will be a big test next Sunday.”