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Monday 25 September 2017

Captain hoping for one more fantastic display from Louth

John Savage

Louth captain Eoghan Callaghan is urging his team-mates to embrace the big occasion on Sunday as Louth bid for a first Leinster Minor Championship title since 1953 at Croke Park.

'It's a one-in-a-lifetime type of game, said the Naomh Mairtin. 'You don't get to Croke Park every week, so we were delighted to get over the line down in Wexford and we're really looking forward to it now.

'We don't know much about Dublin yet, but they're Dublin and they're going to be good. Whether it was Dublin or Kildare it was going to be a tough test, but we're looking forward to it. That's what you're here for, to test yourself against the best, and we might as well embrace it.'

After suffering three straight defeats in the their Leinster League group, few saw this amazing run coming, including the captain.

'To be honest we didn't see it coming. We were disappointing in the league and after the Meath game a few lads were probably close to packing it in. But we stuck at it and sorted it out and in fairness we got over the line in three tight games. I suppose we didn't expect to be getting to Croke Park, but we're here now we might as well give it a go.'

While it's always a boost to win close game, Louth showed remarkable resilience as they had to come from behind in all three of their games to date against Laois, Offaly and Wexford.

Eoghan is encouraged by that heading into Sunday's final and he paid tribute to Wayne Kierans for instilling a fighting spirit into the team.

'We seemed to let our opponents get a run on us in all three games, but in fairness to Wayne [Kierans] our mantra from the start has been to be different to all previous Louth teams. We did come out of three real tight games and we were delighted with that.'

The first one was particularly close, as Laois took the Reds to extra-time in Portlaoise. 'They were giving out about a point the umpire didn't give and it was a strange game all round with late goals flying in. John [Gallagher] stuck away the penalty and we've never looked back since.

'I think we won every game by a point and it's good to come out on the right side of games like that.

'It gives us serious confidence for the next game and going in against Offaly we knew how good they were. Having done it against Laois, the mental side of it was there and we had to do that again against Offaly and then down in Wexford. I suppose we've shown we are mentally strong.

'We gave Offaly too much space in the first 20 minutes. Then Conor Morgan got a vital score and that seemed to kick us on. We got tighter on them and went on the front foot and we out-scored them well in the second-half. That shows we can play good football when we hit top form.

'Down in Wexford we knew they would be good and we tried to hone in on a few of their better players and we got our match-ups right. The travelling didn't help, and like Offaly we gave them a bit too much respect at times, but we played good ball and it was great to get the win.'

Louth have to strike a balance between respecting Dublin and being overawed by them. Eoghan knows Louth will be underdogs, but he certainly doesn't seem worried about facing the Dubs.

'I've heard they've a few very good forwards and look it's the big fish against the small fish, but we'll give it a good crack. 'Myself and Conor Morgan were going to go to the semi-final against Kildare but we missed the train down from Drogheda. But Wayne does his homework and he'll have us well drilled on them.'

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