By Tony Tighe
Louth 2-26, London 1-19
Louth booked their place in Monday’s qualifiers draw with a thumping win over London in Ruislip.
William Woods kicked 13 points for the Wee County, 12 coming from placed balls as they registered their first win since the O’Byrne Cup in January.
The visitors set the tone for a high-scoring cracker with three points inside the opening two minutes but London were back level by the 10-minute mark after Ryan Elliott netted following a fantastic attacking move.
But just as London began to get a foothold around midfield, they had Louth native Martin Carroll black-carded for a cynical foul, and that hurt their hopes of a first championship win since 2013.
Louth regained the initiative and moved five points clear thanks to Ronan Holcroft’s 18th-minute goal, and Conor Grimes added a second late in the half to give them a 2-12 to 1-9 advantage at the interval.
Louth’s lead moved into double figures early in the second half thanks to four pointed frees from Woods, but a London purple patch saw them cut the gap to four with 13 minutes remaining.
However, they troubled the scoreboard only once more as Louth pulled clear once again. Woods blasted a penalty over the crossbar but the corner-forward atoned for that with three late frees to finish with an impressive personal haul.
Scorers: Louth: W Woods 0-13 (11f, 0-1pen), R Holcroft, C Grimes 1-1 each, D Byrne, C Downey, G McSorley 0-3 each, A McDonnell, T Durnin 0-1 each.
London: A Moyles 0-10 (6f), R Elliott 1-1, F McMahon 0-3, L Gavaghan 0-2 (2f), M Gottsche (f), K Butler, L Irwin 0-1 each.
Louth: N Gallagher; D Marks, E Carolan, J Craven; D Maguire, B Duffy, A Williams; A McDonnell, T Durnin; C Downey, D Byrne, G McSorley; W Woods, C Grimes, R Holcroft.
Subs: N Conlon for Holcroft (54, black card), T McEnaney for Downey (60), F Donohoe for Marks (65), E Lafferty for Williams (66), A O’Brien for McSorley (70).
London: G McEvoy; P Butler, C Dunne, C Murphy; D Carrabine, R Jones, P Begley; A McDermott, M Carroll; A Moyles, M Gottsche, T Waters; R Elliott, L Gavaghan, F McMahon.
Subs: G Byrne for Carroll (16, black card), M Walsh for Jones (ht), C O’Neill for Butler (37), L Irwin for McDermott (46), E Murray for Carrabine (49, bc), K Butler for Murphy (50),
Referee: P Hughes (Armagh).