Paul McCormack expecting huge battle against Fermanagh as Promotion fight goes to the final day

'Competition is rife for places' among Louth hurlers, says manager Paul McCormack

Louth Hurling manager Paul McCormack. Pic: Arthur Kinahan

With two wins from their two games, the Louth hurlers are now just 70 minutes away from a place in Division 3A for 2022; that is the prize on offer as Fermanagh head to Darver this afternoon (Throw in 2PM).

Those victories didn’t come easy, they had to dig deep at times to make sure they came out on the right side of game against Cavan and Leitrim who both pushed the Wee County to their limits.

For their manager Paul McCormack, two victories from hard fought encounters was exactly what his troops needed and he is confident they will continue to progress with another, stronger performance needed to get over the challenge of Fermanagh.

“It has probably been a wee bit tight at times in those games, but that is exactly what we need” he explained. ”We had one challenge match before the league which was competitive and then two really tight games in the league where we had to grind out results.”

“I do feel there has been progress in the group, we are just hoping to see more growth as we go into the game against Fermanagh, we’ll look at the things that helped us get over the line and also work on the stuff we feel needs improving.”

“I’m challenging the boys constantly to look at their game and try and develop it and we are still seeing that development and hopefully there is more to come this weekend against Fermanagh.”

It is two teams who will be extremely familiar with each other, having met twice in last years Lory Meagher Cup with Louth coming out on top in the final in Croke Park while the Ernesiders got the better of the home side when last making the journey to Darver for their group stage encounter.

Despite this familiarity, the Armagh native doesn’t think their earlier meetings will have too much of a baring, given that it helps both sides, with training more focused on improving their current setback of letting leads slip in games.

“We know plenty about them, but it works both ways. On any given day weather conditions, referees, all those sorts of variables are up in the air and it comes down to the team that copes best to those and makes the least mistakes and that is what we are focusing on ourselves.”

“To try and iron out things that have been holding us back a wee bit, keeping teams in games when we get a bit of a lead so that would be our main concern, we were ahead in both games and allowed the opposition to come back so if we do that again against Fermanagh we’ll be in for a difficult day.”

Joe Baldwin’s side come into the contest off the back of some decent form against Cavan and Leitrim and are yet to taste defeat in the National League.

They have hit 2-16 and 1-19 so far in glittering attacking performances andwith some new personnel added to the side since they last met, the Louth manager is expecting a fierce challenge from the Ulstermen.

“They have some really good players, they have a more balanced team this year which includes some players that are back from England and weren’t available last year, so that makes the challenge on Sunday that wee bit harder for us.”

“They seem to be scoring very well, they probably let a lead slip against Cavan, as we know Cavan can be like dogs, very tough to beat. They pulled it back the first day in their drawn match so Fermanagh have got good forwards who can give good quality ball in if they get space.”

“They certainly have lots of threats and they come in off the back of a good performance against Leitrim, where they really pulled away in the second half so while we can look at what Fermanagh have done, in reality it is about focusing on ourselves which is what we’ll be homing in on this week.”

With no league final this year, the team that tops the four team group will be crowned league champions and gain promotion to 3A for 2022.

McCormack is aware of this factor and knows it adds to the significance of the fixture, yet he hasn’t allowed the players minds to wonder too much about the possible title that is on the line.

Like always, they are treating it as just another game to prepare for, but he is weary that all their good work will be for nothing if they cannot get a positive result on Sunday.

“It has certainly played itself out to be a real final day showdown in Darver, once we had our game finished, we were very interested to see what the result was over in Enniskillen, and it has planned out that we are in a de facto League final and all our energies are focused on that.”

“That is the outcome we want but we haven’t really been thinking about promotion at the minute, we just have to prepare for the match and try and get the best possible performance so far on Sunday, our best game has to be this one or the last two games don’t mean anything.”

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