One wonders how long the Louth players stayed in the dressing room in Cusack Park after Sunday’s match. As Aidan O’Rourke finished the obligatory media interviews there was no doubting that the Louth manager was angry with what he had just witnessed.
His assessment of the performance was unrelenting in its honesty and as he headed for the dressing room door you wondered just what was going to be said, or more importantly - how it would be said.
Whether the Alex Ferguson hair dryer was deployed or a more subtle tactic is anyone’s guess, but O’Rourke was not a happy man.
“There’s no excuse for losing that game, it was 15 against 14 and to be honest I’m a bit angry at the minute.”
He wasn’t pulling any punches; delving straight into the detail of where the Wee County managed to lose a match that was there for the taking.
“We got ourselves into a very strong position, we didn’t make as good a use of the wind as I’d have liked in the first half. But we were in a strong position at the start of the second half and started very well. But we just didn’t push on from there and we allowed Westmeath to come at us”, explained the Armagh man.
A quick look at the sideline during the second half was enough to see how frustrated O’Rourke was with the performance.
“Maybe it’s part of the learning curve for us, but individual mistakes completely crippled us today. We kicked the ball when it should have been run, men were punching ball when it should have been caught, spilling the ball in the tackle. It was very very frustrating and infuriating watching it to be honest.”
Even after half time Louth looked the more likely to move up a level and close out the victory. But a lack of desire to inflict more pain and hurt on Westmeath was a key problem stated O’Rourke.
“Even when Westmeath came back at us in the middle period of the second half the boys showed good character staying tight and kicked on again. We’d a lot of missed chances in fairness, one or two goal chances and simple enough point opportunities from in front of the posts that we didn’t take.
“You know when a team are behind and chasing you need to keep punching holes in them and we didn’t take those chances from the middle of the second half onwards and that ultimately cost us. The best team won in the second half.”
That lack of ruthlessness in front of goal was also mirrored by a lack of passion in the rest of the field explained the Louth boss.
“We weren’t ruthless enough at all and I suppose that also extends to out the field, we were too pedestrian in possession and we were coughing up ball, it was just a calamity of errors in the second half to be honest.”
There was no doubting the confidence of the Louth panel going into last Sunday’s match. Many would have said they travelled with a certain amount of expectation rather than hope. O’Rourke agreed that they showed confidence, but not for long enough to win a national league match.
“Yeah absolutely, they were in good form in the couple of games since the end of the O’Byrne Cup and the team were playing well and very confidently.
“I think today we showed that in patches. We showed glimpses of the football that we’re trying to play and we had problems with fellas following instruction or doing what has been asked of them and maybe it was harsh lesson and maybe it was a timely lesson. If you don’t work at what you’re supposed to do it will come back at you and it certainly came back to bite us today.”
A critical lack of intensity for the full seventy minutes seems to have cost Louth to a certain extent. O’Rourke sees it more as a mental problem, rather than a physical one.
“I thought it was there in fazes early in both halves and even in the middle part of the second when whenever we were stemming the Westmeath tide, I thought it was there, but we just aren’t capable of producing it for seventy minutes at the minute and I suppose the biggest area for improvement is upstairs and our coolness with and without the ball, that was sadly lacking today whenever the game was in the melting pot, so that’s and area for us to look at.”
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