Louth senior footballers got almost everything right in their rout of Laois in the opening round of the Leinster Championship. Kicks out from goals were well posted and chances well taken. Discipline held in the face of provocation and calls from the line were astute. And the pitch on which the game was played was perfect to requirements.
Fast forward to Sunday’s second round match with Wexford. What a contrast. Very few of Neil Gallagher’s deliveries were won, through no fault of the kicker – and while there was 1-15 on the board at the finish, 16 scores to Wexford’s 15 (2-13), not every opportunity was taken.
Shane Lennon claimed 1-5, but with the game ending as it did, it wasn’t the Kilkerley clubman’s brilliantly-taken goal or his points from play that came in for comment, rather his decision to go for a goal instead of taking a point close to the finish when a score was so badly needed. One point was a poor return for all the glimpses Andy McDonnell had on goals.
Colm Judge’s booking minutes after coming in for Ciaran Byrne made you wonder – but totally baffling was John O’Brien drawing a red card upon himself at a time when every hand was so badly needed on deck. O’Brien had been solid in the team’s strongest sector, the half-back line; if there’d been provocation he should have bitten his tongue. His team needed him like never before as the game drew to a close.
Louth were in trouble at midfield trying to come to terms with Daithi Watters and Rory Quinlivan; when a substitution was eventually made, it was a corner-forward who was called in. We’ve seen that one before, and before that, and before that....
Aidan O’Rourke might want to have a say in the choice of venue when Louth next get a home game in the championship – and that could be as soon as next Monday after the draw for the qualifiers is made. Drogheda looked good on Sunday, but is it suitable to the football the manager wants his team to play?