HURLING | Louth looking to build on good display when they face Armagh
Reds face neighbours for a place in Nicky Rackard quarter-final
Against all the odds, Louth’s hurlers produced a very spirited performance in Dowdallshill last Saturday afternoon, losing narrowly to a well fancied Derry side by 2–17 to 1–12 in the opening round of the Nicky Rackard Cup.
Joint managers Philip O’Brien and Ken McKenna will be hoping that their side who earned promotion to this competition when capturing the Lory Meagher Cup in 2016 can take encouragement from that performance as they prepare to take on neighbours Armagh in Round 2B of the competition at the Athletic Grounds in Armagh this Saturday afternoon.
Derry fielded a team that included three members of the successful Slaughtneil club who just missed out on making the St Patrick’s Day All Ireland Senior Club final in Croke Park, with three more also named among their substitutes.
Louth trailed by eight points at half time last weekend but were the better team for the opening 18 minutes of the second half by which stage they had reduced the arrears to just two points thanks to David Kettle’s goal. However, they failed to score for the remainder of the match as the Ulster side added 1–3 to run out winners.
Having featured in the first two games of the side’s Division 3A National League campaign, Shane Nolan made a return to the team as goalkeeper.
Impressing in defence were Roger Maher, Mick Lyons and captain Paddy McCormack with the midfield pairing of St Fechin’s duo Donal Ryan and Seaghan Conneely to the fore in that position setting up many attacks for the forwards.
Liam Dwan, although featuring at corner forward on the match programme, had a free role and was seen on many occasions helping out in the defence as well as being instrumental in setting up the Louth goal for full forward Kettle.
Forward Paddy Lynch, scorer of four points, picked up a suspected broken nose last Saturday and will be a doubt for this weekend’s match with other key roles in the forward line expected to be filled again by veteran Diarmuid Murphy, scorer of two terrific long range points in the second half against Derry, alongside the likes of Michael Ryan and Gerard Smyth.
Saturday’s winners will qualify for the quarter final of the competition and the game at the Athletic Grounds throws in at 3pm.