Liam Brennan, Carlow, and Conor Early, Louth in Leinster SFC action.
Liam Brennan, Carlow, and Conor Early, Louth in Leinster SFC action.

Leinster SFC: Louth net five goals

Leinster Senior Football Championship First Round

LOUTH 5-10 CARLOW 0-10

By Paul Keane at Pairc Tailteann, Navan

A 15-point win for Louth to secure a Leinster SFC quarter-final clash with Kildare and, in truth, Mickey Harte could probably claim his side didn't even play to their true potential.

These are exciting times for Louth, already promoted to Division 2 of the Allianz League following another excellent campaign, and now dreaming of claiming back to back wins in the Championship.

Captain Sam Mulroy struck 2-5 in total while Conor Grimes, Ciaran Byrne and Tommy Durnin were also on the mark in what is the county's first win in the Championship under Mickey Harte.

They hit Carlow hard and early in Navan, racking up an eight-point lead and glossing the scoreline slightly in the final quarter when Mulroy swooped for both of his goals, the second from a penalty.

As for Carlow, a difficult season shows no signs of getting much better and the Division 4 side will head now to the inaugural Tailteann Cup.

All the pre-match indicators pointed to Louth, promoted to Division 2 after another positive Allianz League campaign, having too much for a Carlow side that won just one of its seven Division 4 games.

It panned out that way too with Louth, admittedly aided by a stiff wind, bursting out of the blocks after a 15-minute delay to the game due to local traffic problems and going a long way to putting this encounter beyond Carlow inside just 20 minutes.

They led by 1-5 to 0-1 at that stage with Mulroy and Ciaran Downey both registering a brace of points each before powerful full-forward Grimes latched onto a ball down the right and unleashed a piledriver shot across goalkeeper Ciaran Cunningham to the net.

Back in 2018 when Carlow last won an opening round game in Leinster, overcoming Louth as it happens, star attacker Paul Broderick registered 1-8.

Broderick received an All-Star nomination later that year but retired after the 2021 Championship and a young Carlow side with three Championship debutants missed not just Broderick's quality but his experience.

A couple of Niall Hickey and Darragh Foley points lifted the travelling Carlow support but Louth's second goal was a hammer blow in response and left the 2010 Leinster finalists eight points clear.

Ex-Carlow AFL player Byrne showed his soccer skills this time when he rounded Cunningham and struck a left footed shot from the deck to the net, leaving Louth 2-05 to 0-03 clear.

Grimes thundered over a point on the brink of half-time to put Louth 2-06 to 0-05 to the good at half-time.

The favourites faced into the wind in the second-half and their task became even more difficult when Byrne was replaced in the 43rd minute with an apparent injury.

It didn't hamper Louth as Durnin's superbly taken goal in the 49th minute left 10 points between the teams, 3-7 to 0-6, and put the result virtually beyond Carlow.

Mulroy, who struck 3-51 during the league, added 61st and 68th minute goals, the second from the penalty spot after Downey was fouled on the way to goals.

There could have been even more goals for Louth but Dan Corcoran, Ciaran Keenan, Craig Lennon and Gerard Browne were all denied.

Scorers for Louth: Sam Mulroy 2-5 (1-0pen, 0-3f, 0-1 45), Conor Grimes 1-1, Tommy Durnin 1-1, Ciaran Byrne 1-0, Ciaran Downey 0-2, Conor Early 0-1.

Scorers for Carlow: Darragh Foley 0-3 (0-2f), Ross Dunphy 0-2, Jamie Clarke 0-1 (0-1f), Niall Hickey 0-1, Josh Moore 0-1, Conor Crowley 0-1, Colm Hulton 0-1.

Louth: James Califf; Dan Corcoran, Bevan Duffy, Donal McKenny; Liam Jackson, Niall Sharkey, Eoghan Callaghan; Tommy Durnin, Conor Early; John Clutterbuck, Sam Mulroy, Conall McKeever; Ciaran Downey, Conor Grimes, Ciaran Byrne.

Subs: Ciaran Keenan for Byrne 43, Tom Jackson for McKeever 56, Craig Lennon for L Jackson 61, Leonard Grey for Callaghan 66, Gerard Browne for McKenny 66.

Carlow: Ciaran Cunningham; Liam Roberts, Shane Buggy, Conor Doyle; Jordan Morrissey, Mikey Bambrick, Seanie Bambrick; Liam Brennan, Eoghan Ruth; Josh Moore, Jamie Clarke, Darragh O'Brien; Conor Crowley, Darragh Foley, Colm Hulton.

Subs: Niall Hickey for Mikey Bambrick 11, Ross Dunphy for Brennan 39, Murtough Ware for Hickey 53, Shane Clarke for Buggy 56, Owen Roberts for Moore 61.

Referee: Niall Cullen (Fermanagh).