Disappointing league season comes to an end for Louth’s hurlers

Donegal 3–24 Louth 1–17

Louth’s Diarmuid Murphy in action against Donegal

Louth’s disappointing National League campaign came to an end when Donegal inflicted a sixth straight defeat on the Wee County in the concluding round of Division 3A in Darver on Sunday afternoon.

Seventeen different players got their names on the scoresheet throughout this high scoring encounter but just one of them, Tipperary native David Flynn, will be grabbing the headlines as he accounted for 3–13 of his side’s tally which was enough to see Donegal through to the final against Tyrone this weekend.

Louth, for their part, must now put their current woes behind them and prepare for a very tough opening round clash at home to Derry in the Nicky Rackard Cup on Saturday, April 22nd.

Playing with the aid of a stiff breeze, David Stephenson opened the scoring for the home side with a point from play inside 30 seconds. They doubled their early lead when top scorer Gerard Smyth fired over a free.

The visitors responded with their opening point from the stick of Ronan McDermott with the sides sharing the next two points before that man Flynn struck for the game’s opening goal from the left of the post on nine minutes.

The sides shared the next six points with both Louth midfielders, Seaghan Conneely and Paddy McCormack, along with Smyth, accounting for their side’s scores, 0–6 to 1–5.

Donegal then struck three unanswered points between the 18th and 25th minute from full forward Colm Melaugh and Flynn (0–2). Similarly, Louth then responded with three points of their own from Gavin Kerrigan and two Smyth frees.

A foul on Ronan Rafferty resulted in a penalty being awarded to the Ulster men which Flynn dispatched low past keeper Stephen Hackett on 32 minutes.

The sides shared two points on the run in to half time and two minutes into added time Louth got themselves right back into the match when the sliotar dropped kindly to Michael Ryan who fired to the net from close range to leave his side trailing by 2–9 to 1–10 at the break.

Donegal extended their lead to three points with midfielder Stephen Gillespie pointing from play inside 60 seconds of the resumption and that lead soon became six points when the other midfielder, and captain, Danny Cullen played David Flynn through to net goal number three from close range.

A foul on Gavin Kerrigan presented Gerard Smyth with the chance to open his side’s second half account with a pointed free.

Aided by the elements, the visitors pressed hard for further scores and their efforts were rewarded with five unanswered points to leave them in front by 3–13 to 1–11 with 51 minutes played.

Substitute Diarmuid Murphy responded with a relieving point for Louth from play but their opponents continued to press forward and four further points in as many minutes from Flynn (0–2), Niall Cleary and Jamie De Ward had the game over as a contest.

The sides shared the next four points and a run of three points in a row from Smyth — two frees — and Gavin Kerrigan put some respectability on the scoreboard as the game entered added time.

In the time that remained, Donegal sealed their win and a place in the final with late points from substitute Sean Curran and man of the match David Flynn.

DONEGAL: Paul Burns; Aiden Stokes, Jamesie Donnelly, Padhraic Doherty; Richie Kee, Joe Boyle, Ciaran Finn; Danny Cullen (0–2, 1f), Stephen Gillespie (0–2); Ronan McDermott (0–1), Niall Cleary (0–1), Bernard Lafferty (0–1); Jamie De Ward (0–2), Colm Melaugh (0–1), David Flynn (3–13, 1–9f). Subs: Sean Curran (0–1) for S Gillespie, Dylan Lafferty for P Burns, Paddy Wilson for A Stokes, Cathal Doherty for R Kee, Paul Nelson for B Lafferty.

LOUTH: Stephen Hackett; Mark Wallace, Mike Lyons, Conor Matthews; Stephen Kettle, Oisin Byrne, Colin Griffin; Seaghan Conneely (0–1), Paddy McCormack (0–1); Gavin Kerrigan (0–2), Gerard Smyth (0–10, 9f), Brian Stephenson; Michael Ryan (1–0), David Kettle (0–1), David Stephenson (0–1). Subs: Diarmuid Murphy (0–1) for O Byrne, Padraig McCarthy for M Ryan, Michael Byrne for B Stephenson.

REFEREE: Gavin Quilty (Kilkenny).

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