Louth manager Mickey Harte
It was effectively knock out football on Sunday; win and you have a shot at gaining promotion, lose and with both team’s chances slim in their respective provinces and with no back door this season it meant the loser’s year was over. In terms of meaningful progression at least.
At half time, after 35 minutes that was largely dominated by the visitors from the West, the prospect of another year in Division Four seemed a grim and very possible scenario.
However once more Mickey Harte delivered a speech for the ages, his troops coming out a much better drilled side, one which put Sligo to the sword by ten points in an ease nobody present could have predicted.
“It was a great example of what you can do with a game,” exclaimed the jubilant Tyrone native, “we didn’t play well in the first half, Sligo played very well, they were very clinical in their finishing playing against the breeze and they played the game on their terms in the first half.”
“We felt we could have done better, we were relying on the breeze to carry the ball over the bar and that’s not the way life works, you have to be accurate to get the ball over the bar and we wasted too many chances.”
“It was just a question of settling down, playing the type of game that we apply best in the second half, which is running the ball, carrying the ball, putting it through the hands and making sure you were in the scoring zone before you shot.”
Not every manager will be willing to pinpoint a moment that was key to victory, but for the former All Ireland winner it was clear the part of the game that ended up being decisive, the goal of Sam Mulroy seconds after the restart.
Louth had trailed for the pretty much the duration of the first 35 minutes but having overcome their opponent’s purple patch The Wee County never looked back from here, putting in a quite frankly ridiculous second half demolition of the Westerners.
“There is no doubt it knocked the stuffing out of them and it really put energy into our players as they didn’t have to fight their way back point for point, because obviously that was going to be hard work and in doing that there is always the chance the opposition well get a score or two as well”
“I think it shocked Sligo and it took them a while to get over it and by the time they did get over it, around the water break we had a decent lead and I think at that stage it was all about conserving that league, that was all we needed to do.”
In some ways the game had similar characteristics to their last game against Leitrim, Louth again weathering the storm before eventually walking all over Terry Hyland’s troops.
That day the water break played a big role, allowing Leitrim to regroup and take the lead at half time, Harte was adamant they used this as motivation to make sure they left no room for a possible comeback from Sligo at any stage in the second half.
“It is vital we learn, at the first water break last week we were in a strong position and before we knew it we were down at half time, so we had to use that to say when we got ourselves in another good position again, that we don’t let this slip two weeks in a row.”
“That readied us for the fact that if we rest on our laurels, suddenly they might get a goal and it is game on again, so it was about keeping them at bay, restricting them to points if anything at all and keeping that gap wide while picking up some scores ourselves.”
The win has seen Louth destined for a League semi-final against Carlow, however there will be no final if they win it due to being out in the championship a week after the final was originally fixed for.
Harte is taking nothing for granted, speaking of how they will treat it like a final and he is expecting the challenge from their Leinster neighbours to be their toughest assignment to date.
“We gave ourselves a knockout competition when we lost the first game, we couldn’t afford to lose anymore and that hasn’t changed today, we have to consider this a league final coming up because whoever wins that is promoted.”
“Carlow will be thinking the same thing and they are at home for this so it is a tall order for us, as things get tougher from here.”
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