Next Saturday’s league clash with Laois sees Louth boss Aidan O’Rourke square up to his old Armagh team mate Justin McNulty, as both men battle to gain the upper hand in an already hotly contested Division Two.
Laois enter the match on two points, just like Louth. But despite beating Armagh on the opening day of the league, McNulty’s side succumbed to Derry on day two and are now already under pressure to push on for promotion.
Louth on the other hand will have gained much confidence from beating Galway on Saturday and O’Rourke knows only too well that the Laois match is a defining one for his team in many respects.
“Obviously we also play Laois in the championship so it’s an important game for both teams. But the short turn around (between the Galway game and the Laois match) is great.”
That quick jump between games may seem to benefit the Wee County in terms of momentum, but the Louth boss is certain that McNulty will be doing his homework on the Wee County and O’Rourke felt his presence at the Gaelic Grounds last Saturday.
“I could feel him sitting behind me somewhere in the stand,” smirked O’Rourke.
Reflecting on the victory over Galway, O’Rourke felt no need to praise his team selection which was questioned by a few before the match.
“There was no gamble with it. Most of the changes were one of two things – either enforced through injuries or form. It’s a long time since the Westmeath games and the fellas who performed got picked in the team, simple as that.”
The Armagh man was delighted with the consistent intensity his side showed throughout the Galway match - a marked contract with day one.
“I think the lads were determined not to repeat what they did in Mullingar. At this level and this division you play for 70 minutes or you don’t win, it’s as simple as that. To put 45 minutes of great work and to not finish the job is a crime.”
The two points are welcome according to O’Rourke, but the confidence that comes from victory could be vital come next Saturday down in O’Moore Park in Portloaise.
“Confidence is an important factor. There’s no question about the ability in the group and if fellas can produce at this level then confidence will grow. I think today should go fair way to showing them what they are capable of.”
The Wee County boss was adamant that the hard work during the week is what dictates who gets a place come Sunday.
“We were very clear to the players from the start that whoever is performing in training gets picked”, explained the Dromintee man. “ It’s as simple as that. We’ve couple of templates that we’ve worked on as to how we’re trying to play and the guys are getting it done during the week.”
Saturday’s game also saw the return to inter county action of Dundalk Young Irelands Derek Maguire. O’Rourke was full of praise for his eye-catching cameo.
“Derek’s very difficult for defenders to deal with late in the game and so it proved there again. I’m very happy with what Derek did.”