Kelly’s men were forced to travel to Derry for a first round All-Ireland qualifier just six days after losing to Meath in the Leinster championship and faded badly in the second half in Owenbeg on Saturday night.
“Today’s defeat was more about the hand they were dealt than the quality of the team,” he declared. “We were just tired and out on our feet, just running on empty.
“I’m really really disappointed for the players the way they’ve been treated. These people (in Croke Park) speak about player welfare, but they don’t understand player welfare. If they want to talk about player welfare, then come into that dressing-room and see the emotions of the Louth players and the physical condition of the Louth players. It’s nothing short of disgraceful.
“There’s people sitting in offices making these decisions and did they get it wrong?
James Kielt scored 1-9 to put Derry through to this morning’s Round 2A draw, his expertly-taken penalty in the 66th minute putting the gloss on a good evening’s work for the Oak Leafers. Louth led by a point, 1-5 to 0-7, at half-time after Jim McEneaney buried a 15th minute penalty past Derry’s 38-year-old goalkeeping coach Mickey Conlan, who had to start between the posts due to injuries. However Derry grew stronger after the break, reeling off seven points in a row to take command with in-form Kielt nailing every free inside 50m.
There was respite for Louth when Declan Byrne buried their second goal on the hour mark, cutting inside the ‘keeper, to bring his team to within two points.
However Kielt settled it with a free and then the penalty after Danny Heavron was hauled down in the square. Declan Byrne received a straight red card in stoppage time to complete a miserable week for 14-man Louth.
J Kielt (1-9, 6 frees, 1 pen), C Bradley (0-3, 1f), E McGuckin (0-2), M Lynch (0-2, 2f), N Toner (0-1), E Bradley (0-1).
D Byrne (1-3), J McEneaney (1-1, 1pen), J Califf (0-4, all frees), R Burns (0-1, 1f), C Grimes (0-1).
M Conlan; G McKinless, C Mullan, K McKaigue; N Forrester, B Rogers, L McGoldrick; C McAtamney, N Holly; D Heavron, C Bradley, E Brown; J Kielt, E McGuckin, M Lynch.
K Johnston for McGoldrick (43), N Loughlin for Brown (43), N Toner for Lynch (49), E Bradley for Holly (52), O Duffy for Mullan (64), S Heavron for McGuckin (70)
C Lynch; P Rath, P Reilly, J Bingham; D Maguire, D McMahon, A Williams; J Stewart, J Califf; D Byrne, J McEneaney, R Moore; E Lafferty, C Grimes, R Burns
G McSorley for McEneaney (43), A Reid for Moore (47), B Duffy for Stewart (51), J McEneaney for Burns (65).
Marty Duffy (Sligo)