05 Jul 2022

Paul McCormack praises Darver pitch for it's key role in Louth's Croker Success

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

Louth Hurling manager Paul McCormack. Pic: Arthur Kinahan

For a second time in three years, Louth Hurling manager Paul McCormack has guided the Wee County to a National title. And in a stunning fashion too, brushing Longford aside by 14 points as they booked their spot in the Nicky Rackard Cup in 2023.

However, no such accolades looked on if all you saw was the opening seven minutes of play in HQ, 1-2 without reply seeing the Midlanders take an early lead.

“It obviously didn’t go to plan” noted the Armagh native when dissecting the start of the game post-match to the assembled media.

“We tried to keep the boys grounded all week and maybe try and use some of the experience from two years ago. That was a weird experience, only seven players have remained on the first 15 so it was all about getting those lads to be composed, get the game off to a good start.

“That didn’t happen, but credit to the fellas, we learned throughout the year about being calm, as at times you’re going to be hit with something unforeseen. It was clearly a start we didn’t want; we were five down but there was no panic.

“Once we got chipping away and we got the goal, a lovely team move with Matthews teeing up big Seaghan Connelly, that really settled us and from then on I felt we were on the pitch of the game.”

In fact they were flying form afterwards, putting on an attacking masterclass that saw 10 players getting on the scoresheet, the vast majority of their final tally being got from open play.

Speaking about their silky, pacey gameplan, McCormack was keen to praise the facilities at the Louth Centre of Excellence in Darver. The pitch there had them primed and ready to get the most out of large, open playing surface that is Croke Park.

“There was some misinformation about Darver not being a big pitch, but it is the same size as Croke Park and credit to Louth GAA for planning it that way. We knew what exactly we were going into.

“It is the full size in Darver, a place we have been to loads of times and we knew that if we got to Croke Park, on a really pristine playing surface we could do damage given our mobility and the way we play.

“We knew if we got the right ball at the right times, that we can put up a score and we probably left a few behind us as well. To score over 30 points in a national final, I’m just tremendously proud of the boys and the way they stuck to their instructions and stuck to the plan.”

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