LOUTH U-21 boss David Reilly is hoping the experience of reaching last year's Leinster final will stand to his 2013 panel next Tuesday night as his troops prepare for a derby battle with Meath.
The Reds have a handful of survivors from 12 months ago, but with a number of them carrying knocks and recovering from long-term injury, Reilly's plans are still up in the air somewhat.
'We do have a bit of experience from last year and that's a bonus, but we've been carrying a few knocks,' Reilly revealed. 'Michael McKeown and Cian McEvoy have been struggling lately and Eoghan Duffy is out because of his rugby scholarship in Waterford. Peter Kirwan is recovering from glandular fever, so he's not going to make it either. We have Anthony Williams and Dermot Campbell from last year too.'
Last year's minors Stephen Kilcoyne and Ciaran Byrne have also been laid low by injury recently, with the latter on the mend from a long-term knee problem.'
Injuries aside Reilly is under no illusions as to the task at hand. The former Louth star is no stranger to trips into the Lion's Den, while his side will be facing a Meath outfit bolstered by some promising minor teams in recent seasons.
'Meath have had some very good minor teams. They were in the All-Ireland final last year and they beat Louth two years ago in the Leinster semi-final in Navan.
'But it was a huge fillip for our lads to reach the Leinster final last year too and that kind of thing brings lads on no end.
'They have been working very hard, training Tuesday, Friday and Sunday and we've played a number of challenge matches too against Armagh, Monaghan, Down and Cavan.'
While midweek games are far from ideal, Reilly has been around long enough to know it's something well out of his control.
'It's not ideal, we have a guy in Cork, one in Carlow and a lot in Dublin. It's a bad time of year too with heavy pitches and they'll be even heavier with all the weather we've had recently.
'But we're looking forward to it. Meath will be favourites but as Louth showed last year if you can get a win under your belt, guys grow in confidence and you can build up momentum from there.'
Meath, meanwhile, have a numbers of survivors from the starting XV that made a disappointing opening round exit to Offaly last year.
Conor McHugh, Ciaran McConnell, Brian Dillon and Patrick Fox all started against the Faithful County 12 months ago while Conor Devereaux came on as a sub.
Donal Landy from St Patrick's was also a member of that panel and is eligible again but injury rules out senior player Alan Forde.
Most of the squad has experience from county minor level including Neil Shortall, Bobby O'Brien, Conor McGill, Bryan McMahon, Conor Sheridan and Daniel Queeney. The manager is Sean Barry and his selectors are all former county senior players, Cormac Sullivan, Tom Hanley and Pauric Lyons.
They have played a number of challenge games in preparation for the Wee County clash and will fancy their chances of advancing to the next round.