Louth focus on smaller targets

Louth captain Adrian Reid says that today’s game against Meath “is our Leinster final, make no mistake about it.” But he doesn’t say it for purposes of revenge. You know - Joe Sheridan, Martin Sludden and all that.

Louth focus on smaller targets

The real change that’s happened since 2010 is that Louth don’t consider winning Leinster a particularly realistic possibility. At least not at this stage of their young team’s development, and especially not when faced with the Dublin dynasty.

So winning the quarter-final against the only Leinster county they share a border with is the height of expectation for the Wee County.

“Every year if there’s one provincial championship you can be sure of putting a name on the cup, it’s Dublin and Leinster,” says Reid.

“Definitely it does affect the progress for some other teams in Leinster but that makes Sunday’s game all the more important for us.

“The winners play Dublin in the next round so I guess you’re in bonus territory at this stage. But I definitely feel that on our day we can get one over Meath.”

When you ask about memories of the lopsided rivalry, rather than bring up 2010, Reid cites watching Meath score two late goals in a 2002 qualifier as particularly painful.

“We had victory in our hands and Graham Geraghty got a late goal. And you can go on - there’s plenty more examples.

“We’ll be looking to right those wrongs of the past.”

This is essentially the second Louth team that Reid has played on. The first peaked in 2010, but being wronged in the Leinster final loss to Meath precipitated a surge of retirements and withdrawals over the following years.

Many of that team emigrated that year. Some came back and played for a time, and left again.

Others chose to spend summers in America, making the springtime platform of Division 2 football non-transferable to harder ground.

The Finnegan brothers, Ray and Dessie, retired. In 2014, Paddy Keenan, the county’s only ever All-Star, retired, aged 29. That trio teamed up to lead St Patrick’s to the Louth Senior Football title last October.

With Reid sitting out the Division 4 League final and Championship opener due to an “unfortunately timed” fractured wrist, none of the 15 that started in that infamous final against Meath played any part in those games.

He’s now fit to be considered for selection, but Reid firmly says that 2010 is “long done and dusted” and “dead in the water”. It was a turning point, though. Its aftershock left a young team cast into the lead roles.

For most, this will be their first time playing their Royal neighbours at Senior level.

When Reid was in that boat, it was Aaron Hoey’s advice that hit home: “’You have to embrace every moment of your inter-county career because it could be over before you know it. What you achieve in that time is what you’ll always remember from it.’”

Hoey moved on after 2012 and Reid is one of the few left to pass on those experiences. However, the idea that the new team is starting to form a backbone of its own gives Reid more hope than in previous years.

“We were left with a void because there was such a big gap to fill there and we probably suffered as a consequence – obviously relegation to Division 4 wasn’t something that we would’ve foreseen.

“But it’s a completely new team, there’s a lot of youth there, and it’s great to see that there’s an actual backbone in this team now.

“There’s no history there with them players. It’s about them setting their own goals now and their standards.”

Under Colin Kelly, “a coach that lets you express your footballing abilities”, the Division 4 trophy has been the first goal achieved.

Reid, like Hoey before him, will be telling his teammates to embrace this moment too.

LOUTH:

C Lynch, P Rath, P Reilly, K Toner, D Maguire, D McMahon, A Williams, J Stewart, J Califf, D Byrne, J McEneaney, C McKeever, B Duffy, C Grimes, R Burns

Louth GAA have launched Club Louth, a mechanism that offers supporters at home and further afield to further support the work being done at all levels in the county. People can join at three levels designed to cater for all potential supporters with a range of benefits. Joining Club Louth is easy and can be done online at www.louthgaa.ie or by emailing clublouth@gmail.com.

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