After a difficult day at the coalface of Championship football, Louth manager Colin Kelly managed to mine several nuggets of positivity.
When the dust had settled, Westmeath scored 17 times to Louth’s 16, he reasoned.
That wasn’t so bad from a side that is just making its way after the retirements of key players like Paddy Keenan and Shane Lennon and the absence of so many others for various reasons.
“I’m not going to make excuses and that’s not what this should be about,” said Kelly. “But the reality is that where we’re at right now is not easy.
“You’re talking about a lot of debutants, it’s a whole new squad, we’re working as hard as we can.
“I don’t think there would have been a younger county team in the country playing Championship than what we had out there.
“There was three players under 20 in the forwards, a 19-and a 20-year old in the inside line. Tommy Durnin, who is 23, was exceptional in the middle of the field.
“Eoin O’Connor came on and was exceptional. So we have options but it’s not easy becoming a county player overnight. If you could introduce these players on a phased basis, maybe two or three at a time it would be great. “But we’re going with 10 of them. It’s not easy for them, it’s a difficult transition and we have suffered back to back relegations. But we’re working hard.”
Kelly admitted that conceding two goals early in the second-half killed his team off.
“Callum McCormack caught a great ball for the first goal, I suppose we have to give Callum credit for that, it was a lump of a ball forward and it was a brilliant piece of individual skill by Callum,” continued Kelly.
“The second one was a slip from Bevan (Duffy). He’s been excellent all year but these things happen. The third one I won’t complain about. We were pushing on and trying hard to get back into the game.”
It’s the qualifiers next for Louth while Westmeath will push on and try to make the sort of mark in Leinster they did in 2004 when they famously dominated the province.
Paul Sharry and Denis Glennon should be back to face Wexford.
“And Kieran Gavin, hopefully, too,” enthused Westmeath manager Tom Cribbin. “Three very experienced and solid players up the middle of the park.”
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