Keenan relishing Meath battle

Keenan relishing Meath battle

Louth captain Paddy Keenan is determined to remain grounded ahead of Sunday's Leinster SFC final against neighbours Meath.

"There has been a lot of hype since we beat Westmeath," said the St Patrick's clubman. "You would have seen a lot of hype and a lot of colour and flags and everything in the towns in Louth, but I think the lads are level headed enough.

"We've kept the head down over the last couple of weeks. We didn't get carried away with the Westmeath game.

"We have put in a lot of work since the Westmeath game, we are not going to get carried away with ourselves too."

There have been many milestones along the way for Keenan and his colleagues on the way to this Leinster decider, including a first Leinster semi-final appearance since 1998.

That very year of 1998 saw Meath halt Louth's run through to the final, and a year later Nigel Crawford entered the fray for Meath, subsequently going on to win an All-Ireland medal.

Keenan is looking forward to battling it out with Crawford in a vital midfield content this weekend.

"It will be nice to be there. He's won an All-Ireland, he's played on the last Meath team that got to a Leinster final so he has that experience there."

But, despite Crawford being the Royals' sole All-Ireland medal bearer on the current panel, Keenan is quick to point out that Meath have the greater experience overall.

"Probably the Meath team, as a whole, have more experience than we have. You can't be worried about that either.

"It will be a tough battle all around the field. It will be 15 individual battles there and we are going to have to deal with that. We are not looking too much at the Meath team, we have to focus on ourselves."

But right through the north east of Leinster, teams have been dissected and the individual battles analysed by the thousands populating Louth and Meath, whose inter-county rivalry one of the keenest in the GAA according to Keenan.

"There's huge rivalry there between Louth and Meath. Probably people outside the two counties wouldn't realise how big the rivalry is. I'm sure around Drogheda and Collon and that, it's fairly intense," he explained.

"But look it's just one game, you can't be worried about the rivalry or the occasion or the celebration since the last game, or anything like that, or the build-up. You just have to go out and play on the day and perform on the day."

Reflecting on the campaign to date, Keenan says his side have not got carried away with their victories, and in particular the win over a much-fancied Kildare side at the quarter-final stage.

"There have been that many false dawns in Louth that other Louth teams would probably have been happy to beat Kildare and let that be it for the season. We have a good level-headed bunch of lads and we never got carried away with beating Kildare.

"The players there are very hungry for success, and there has been a lot of work done since that day. We didn't let the hype going in to the semi-final get to us or anything like that.

"I think it was a feature of all our games, that whenever we went through a bad patch, or whenever things went against us that we dug deep and battled through it and came out on the right side.

"We won a few balls, or lads got a point at a vital stage or whatever to bring us back. We never crumbled like previous Louth teams did, so you would like to think that you have that in the back of your mind for Sunday."

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