Leinster Senior Football Championship

Wee County boss Kierans hoping for a memorable Sunday double... Liverpool and Louth

Leinster Senior Football Championship

Caoimhín Reilly


Caoimhín Reilly



Wee County boss Kierans hoping for a memorable Sunday double... Liverpool and Louth

Louth manager Wayne Kierans. (Pic: Arthur Kinahan)

Sunday has the potential to be the best day of Louth manager Wayne Kierans’ sporting life.

At roughly the same time as the Wee County aim to earn a Leinster quarter-final date with All-Ireland champions Dublin, the O’Connell’s clubman’s beloved Liverpool will go in search of a maiden English Premier League title.

Kierans admits there’s more chance of the former dream coming true, with the ‘red men’ from Louth resounding favourites to earn a first championship victory over Wexford since 1980 - a year in which Liverpool prevailed as winners of the old First Division.

That’s an omen which Kierans prays will repeat itself, not that he’s overly optimistic.

“That’s not going to happen,” he says through a rueful grin.

However, regardless of how Jurgen Klopp’s team get on, this weekend’s championship tie, Kierans’ first at the helm, has a deeper meaning for the Louth boss. 

The setting, Wexford Park, is, of course, the venue of arguably his finest hour as a manager. It’s where, in 2017, he led Louth minors to victory in the Leinster semi-final, securing the county a place in the provincial decider for the first time in 46 years.

That is ultimately where his outstanding coaching credentials gained wide recognition.

And so he will lead his charges to the south-east on Sunday blessed with only positive vibes, despite Wexford having won each of their last three championship meetings.

“It’s going to be a special day,” Kierans adds, glancing at his players in the distance.

“The championship has that little bit extra over the league. It’s a wee bit nerve-jangling, but if we can go into it knowing that we, as coaches and a management team, have done everything we possibly could to get the lads right, you have to be confident and enjoy it.” 

During the course of our one-to-one, three players are spoken of in-depth; Sam Mulroy, Bevan Duffy and Andy McDonnell each gaining praise from a man whose respect for his players borders on adulation.

And the feeling is meaningfully reciprocated, Kierans’ man-management skills being evidently superior to those of his predecessors.

“We’re motivated to the maximum,” he insists.

A selector under Pete McGrath when Carlow humbled Louth in what was arguably the county’s bleakest day, Kierans is well placed to assess the difference in approach 12 months on.

“We have to make sure that we find extra and that we’re right up at the championship intensity, but I would feel that we’d be in a better place to approach a championship campaign this year.

“They’ve a lot of big, physical guys and some good scoring power. They’ll be a formidable outfit, especially in their own pitch, but I don’t think it’s an issue for us to travel to Wexford Park.

“We’ll be expecting a tough game, but we’ll be expecting to do well.”

Really, though, the expectation is that Louth will do better than ‘well’. In truth, winning the game is the only accurate measure of success. 

But isn’t that how it will be at Anfield, too, when Liverpool entertain Wolverhampton Wanderers?