Inside Track

There was a time when Louth, on average, played in every second Leinster football final

Inside Track

Joe Carroll


Joe Carroll


There was a time when Louth, on average, played in every second Leinster football final

Louth manager Pete McGrath walks away from his team before last Sunday's match in Portlaoise. (Pic: Arthur Kinahan)

Louth senior footballers' defeat by Offaly in the 1960 Leinster final brought the curtain down on what was, many would contend, the county's finest period in championship football. Maybe not as successful as the years from 1909 to 1912 were, if factoring in performances in the All-Ireland series, but good enough to have the county among the province's leading contenders for almost two decades.

That 1960 appearance was the county's last of eight in 18 years. It was one of three defeats, the others coming in 1952 (to Meath) and '58 (Dublin). For the record, the five wins were against Laois (1942), Wexford ('48 and '53),  Meath ('50) and Dublin ('57).

Two of those wins were the prelude to a place in the All-Ireland final, one of them, as all but the very youngest of supporters will know, ending in the grand prize coming this way for only the third time. The other visits were in 1910 – after a defeat in the previous year's final – and 1912.

Sadly, what it's been like since 1960 hasn't been good.  In complete contrast, in fact, to what had gone before. There's been just one appearance in the concluding stage, the ill-fated meeting with Meath eight years ago. And on only seven other occasions were the red jerseys worn on semi-final days.

Figures assiduously compiled by former county manager, Paddy Clarke, show that of the 117 championship ties, qualifiers included, Louth have played in the last 58 years, 47 have resulted in a win. Five were drawn. 

Carlow were the only county that had been eclipsed up until that defeat in Portlaoise in 2011. There were eight wins over the Barrowmen prior to Sunday; and they, along with Wicklow (eight wins, two draws and one defeat), Longford (7, 1, 3) and Westmeath (7, 0, 3)  are the four counties Louth have a plus record against.  

Kilkenny are no longer involved, and maybe just as well. The Cats were Louth's opponents in the 1901 final and won by 0-12 to no-score. However, when the sides next met at the same stage, in 1909, Louth won by 2-9 to 0-4. 

Most matches - 20 in all – have been against Dublin, and Louth's record here is pretty dismal, just one win and two draws.

There's also been only one win in meetings with Meath (from nine games), while Offaly, who were winning their first title in that 1960 meeting and after that claimed the All-Ireland three times, have also been a bogey team, winning nine of the 12 clashes. 

Louth have had six games with Wexford, but here again it's lob-sided, two wins and four defeats.  Four of the dozen meetings with Kildare have ended in a win, and there's been one draw - while Laois are just on the plus side, winning five and drawing one of their 10 matches.

The period under review above can be updated: Carlow have now got two wins to their credit.