Louth 3-18 Sligo 1-14

Patrick Flaherty in Haggardstown

For the second week in a row Louth was left behind at the break, for the second week in a row they stepped out of the locker room and put in a stunning performance that toppled their opposition and left the end result known to all with 15 minutes to go. to play.

It was much easier to predict Louth’s victory last weekend, for long stretches of the first half they had brought the game to their hosts and it was clear they were well capable of coming back from behind and come away with a victory.

Signs like this were harder to spot on Sunday, not only did Sligo well deserve his lead, but in reality he probably should have been further ahead, a late comeback seeing the Wee County track by just one goal in the middle. -time.

Immediately after the first half break Louth scored a goal with Sam Mulroy in good shape and from there they never looked back, even preventing the West from creating chances, let alone them. scoring for long stretches as the home side hit 3-9, 3-6 from play to turn a three-point deficit into a ten-point victory.

Wee County had a strong breeze that supported them in the first half, but it was the men in black and white who got the opening point, Keelan Cawley with a nice playing effort in the first 60 seconds of action.

Tony McEntee had his squad well drilled and they were ready to be patient, going through phases, going short or long, coupled with a clinical advantage to their game, they started the game really well, not registering a wide until 21 minutes after scoring. from their first six companies.

Their building game was seen flawlessly as an impressive team move ended with corner forward Nathan Rooney doubling his lead in three minutes.

Louth, with the advantage of the wind, tended to move the ball quickly, using the ball’s long trajectory to get it into their fit forwards as quickly as possible, but they made a lot of ambitious efforts and had recorded three wide. before the fifth minute, Mulroy and Conor Grimes.

The wind played a part in opening Wee County, with Bevan Duffy creating space before pulling one over the posts from at least 45 yards, but sadly the broads kept coming with Mulroy and Ciaran Byrne missing. the target at a distance.

Another feature of the Sligo game was extreme rhythm, seen with great effect by Paddy O’Connor, who duly bolted to the left wing, winning a frank which was slit from a very hard angle by Niall Murphy for regain their two-point advantage. .

The first significant gap came in the 13th minute, Mickey Gordon was able to beat his marker in the corner well before blowing it up at home in front of Craig Lynch in the Louth net to go 1-3 to 0-1 ahead.

Louth struggled to create chances anywhere near the goal, with Yeats County pushing hard on them to ensure they could only shoot from a distance, but once again it was ‘Former Captain Duffy who intervened with a score from a distance.

In the first half break, the men from the west were in full control of the game, leading 1-5 to 0-3, they had resumed the battle from midfield, looked more physical and in better shape than their opponents , but the key factor remained their clinical advantage because unlike their hosts, every chance created leads to scores.

The tie was a de facto knockout competition, where the winner was only one game away from the promotion and that led to some big tackles from both sides as they knew how important it was to come out of the division four.

In six minutes, Antrim referee Sean Laverty showed three black cards, Sligo full-back Eddie McGuinness was sent to the trash on 24 minutes for a cynical foul on Ciaran Keenan, but Louth’s power play no ‘lasted only two minutes when Anthony Williams received a card for a foul on Sean Carrabine.

Duffy was a major loss to Wee County in the 31st minute, his late tackle on Cawley seeing him leave the field for the remainder of the half.

The stoppages sapped some of Sligo’s momentum and Louth started to get more involved in the game, they started to find their men more easily and started hitting the target once more.

The late scores of Liam Jackson, Mulroy and a brace from Ciaran Byrne at the end of the half were canceled out by a single point from Sligo in added time, meaning that despite being outclassed for so long , they entered the break only 1-9 to 0-9 behind.

Over the course of his long career as a manager, Mickey Harte must have given many motivating team speeches and like a week earlier, whatever type of speech he gives it certainly works wonderfully.

From the throw-in, Louth took possession of the ball before his captain went solo into the heart of Sligo’s defense, stopping only to score a vital goal via a deflection that brought the teams level for the first time since Sligo punched in in the first minute.

They were like a different animal in the second half, on offense there was machine-like efficiency while defensively they were rock solid, making huge tackles, reading any ball as Sligo dared to accumulate long, resulting in scoreless visitors for 17 minutes.

In that spell, they hit a glorious 2-4 of unanswered play to effectively secure their place in the league semifinals before the second break in the water, keeping McEntee’s troops with just one shot at the posts in a nightmare period for Westerners.

Their second goal came in the 44th minute, with Conor Grimes winning a close-to-goal shot and then duly giving Mulroy the start with the St Martins clubman taking no prisoners as he easily buried him at home.

The decisive third goal came six minutes later, Mulroy winning a high ball before this time turning to the supplier and passing it into the path of Ciaran Keenan who muscled through Evan Lyons’ tackle to open. a nine-point cushion.

Discipline continued to be a factor for Sligo, who went on to receive a black card for Niall Murphy, while late in the game McGuinnes was sidelined for the second time in the game after receiving a card. yellow to add to its previous black. a.

Like last week, the game was little more than a challenge game in the final quarter, but Declan Byrne showed Harte some reasons why he should be in the mix for a starting spot with three fine efforts from balls placed late as Louth ran out emphatic ten-point winners.

2-7, 0-12 and now 2-13 have been hit by a clearly gaining confidence Louth side; now they’re just one game away, tied on the road against Carlow in two weeks after clinching a third division spot for 2022. Will they be able to keep that scoring power?

Louth: Craig Lynch; Dan Corcoran, Dermot Campbell, Donal McKenny; Emmet Carolan, Anthony Williams, Eoghan Callaghan (0-01); Bevan Duffy (0-03), Ciarán Byrne (0-03); Liam Jackson (0-01), Sam Mulroy (2-03, 0-02f), Ciaran Downey (0-01); Ciarán Keenan (1-02), Conor Grimes (0-01), Ryan Burns.

Subs used: Niall Sharkey for Williams (35 + 4), Seán Marry for Burns (HT), Declan Byrne (0-03f) for Duffy (55), Conall McKeever for Jackson (62) Eoghan Duffy for Downey (67).

Sligo: Eamonn Kilgannon (0-01f); Ryan Feehily, Eddie McGuinness, Evan Lyons; Keelan Cawley (0-01), Darragh Cummins, Paul McNamara; Paddy O’Connor, Paul Kilcoyne; Conor Griffin, Sean Carrabine (0-04, 0-02f), Mikey Gordon (1-01); Nathan Rooney (0-01), Niall Murphy (0-04, 0-02f), Cian Lally.

Subs used: Red Óg Murphy for Rooney (19), Cian Breheny for O’Connor (46), Barry Gorman (0-01) for Lally (50), Sean Power for Gordon (50), Peter Naughton (0-01, 0-01f) for Griffin (55), Peter Laffey for Cummins (65), Nathan Mullen for Feehily (65).

Referee: Sean Laverty (Antrim)