Toal stays upbeat for final duel with St Pat's
CAST your eye over the teamsheet from the last Dundalk Schools team to contest the Leinster Colleges senior football final and a few familiar names immediately jump off the page.
A number of that generation of players, who defeated St Pat's Navan in Drogheda in 2002, formed the basis of the Louth team that came so achingly, and controversially, close to a historic Leinster title last June.
Current Louth captain Paddy Keenan was the main man in midfield, a 16-year-old Shane Lennon finished with five points in the attack, while Ronan Carroll did a job cancelling out the threat of a certain Joe Sheridan, who was to get his revenge eight years later.
The Wee County faithful will hope that this current crop, again guided to the showpiece by manager Leslie Toal, can repeat the trick and produce a few more stars of the future along the way.
Ciaran Byrne is the main threat in this year's crop and his outstanding total of 2-8 in the 3-15 to 4-3 semi-final victory over St Mary's, Edenderry means the corner-forward will be a marked man this afternoon alongside the impressive Conall McKeever.
Again, it's St Pat's who stand in their way and the holders look strong in every department -- Ciaran Fitzsimons, Alan Forde, Nicky O'Brien and Dylan Regan impressed in the semi-final victory over Moate CC.
Pairc Tailteann will provide home advantage to the champions, but Dundalk manager Toal is not worried.
"Although they have the advantage of playing at home, we are happy enough with the venue," he said. "We played there a few weeks ago and the pitch suited us.
"The last day we watched St Pat's in the semi-final and there is no doubt they have a good team, but at this stage we are not going to fear anybody. We know that if we play to our potential then we can win it."