Preview: Leinster SFC - Louth v Wicklow
Sunday May 21
Leinster SFC First Round
Louth v Wicklow, Parnell Park, 3pm
By Cian O'Connell
These are encouraging times for Louth, but they will head to the Donnycarney venue in the capital completely aware that this is an awkward assignment.
Six defeats from seven Allianz Football League games suggests Wicklow are low on confidence so Louth will be expected to prevail.
That brings a challenge of its own, though, and the absence of Andy McDonnell and Derek Maguire deprives Louth of two influential performers.
McDonnell and Maguire have been instrumental in two Allianz Football League promotion winning campaigns.
Louth’s diligent approach under Colin Kelly and Colm Nally is worthy of the utmost respect. How they responded following relegation in their first year in charge provides a lesson in what can be achieved through sheer hard graft.
Kelly has always been a staunch believer in the Louth football cause and is an ideal spearhead for this rapidly developing team.
The Allianz Football League Division Three decider defeat to Tipperary was a disappointment, but Louth are intent on delivering in the Championship.
A healthy relationship exists between Kelly, his backroom team and the players. “We understand a big part of this is lads have a life away from Darver training ground,” Kelly says.
“When we're in there we're trying to encourage them to be the best we can. Our philosophy is to go at teams.
“We've a certain makeup within the squad and we try to play to our strengths and that is where we push on and try to score heavily.”
Louth are dealing in the present, the only match that has captured their attention since the League is Wicklow. “You can't speak about one or two wins,” Kelly remarks.
“All we do is we're assessing ourselves on an ongoing basis and it's about the Wicklow match. That's all it's about.
“Then we've three weeks to prep for the next match. If we then look down the Qualifier route you don't know what effect that has on the squad, but they're a committed bunch, they're very easy to work with and it's a nice time of year to be involved with a team that already has achieved a good bit early on in the season.”
Wicklow boss Johnny Magee isn’t overly concerned about being outsiders for Sunday’s provincial opener. “History shows you that Wicklow are generally the underdogs every time they go to play Championship so look we’ll concentrate on ourselves. I’m confident, that if we play to our potential, that we are good enough to beat them.”