GAA | Colin Kelly: ‘Louth football is in a better place than it was three years ago’
Louth manager walks away after qualifier defeat to Longford
Colin Kelly’s three-year reign as Louth manager came to an end less than 24 hours after Longford knocked the Wee County out of the championship at the Gaelic Grounds on Saturday evening.
After suffering relegation to the fourth tier in his first season, Kelly guided Louth to back to back promotions and landed the Division Four title in 2015.
However, the Reds struggled in this year’s championship and looked a pale imitation of the side that made the jump out of Division Three in the spring.
Speaking immediately after the eight-point defeat, the 45-year-old intimated that his tenure was over and said that he was proud of what Louth had achieved during his stay.
“Has it been a successful three years? I think it has and that will only be shown next year when instead of playing London we’ll be playing Cork, hopefully at Páirc Uí Chaoimh.
“It’s very hard taking defeats,” he continued. “Standing here like this is not nice and it takes me two or three days, maybe a week, to get over days like this.
“The keyboard warriors will be at it again and all of a sudden you have kids at home listening to people being torn asunder for only trying to improve sport in the county.
“I haven’t enjoyed the last four or five weeks,” he added. “It’s not nice being beaten in a championship match on a Sunday and not finding out on a Monday night where you’ll be training that week.
“That’s draconian but, ultimately, when I sit down and think about where Louth football is, it’s definitely in a far, far better place than it was three years ago. I would deem that as successful.”
When asked if 2017 would be judged as ‘a season of two halves’, Kelly said there was no way he would have sacrificed promotion for a run at the Leinster Championship.
“As a manager, you have to pick your fight,” he stated, “and in January, nobody gave us a chance of achieving what I felt we could achieve.
“We had some dark, difficult nights in Darver but we worked hard, got results and the result of that was what you saw against Tipperary in the Division Three final at Croke Park.
“For a county like Louth to have days like that is amazing. It’s great for the players, their families and the supporters.
“There are a lot of deluded counties out there talking about the summer when the summer is not their fight,” he added.
“We’re playing in two competitions that we can’t win and that’s the reality of it. Tell me a sport where you go into the competition trying to get the best out of lads knowing that.”
“Was it a season of two halves? What I would say is that I would really sacrifice the last two Sunday’s to be playing in — and to get promoted — to Division Two.
“For Louth football, it’s better for us to be playing Division Two next year than being up at Croke Park getting the shite kicked out of us.”