Keenan demands Louth up ante for Dubs
LOUTH captain Paddy Keenan has warned his team-mates that they need to improve drastically if they are to test All-Ireland champions Dublin on Sunday week.
The Wee County needed a 76th-minute Daniel O'Connor goal on Sunday to edge past Westmeath in Navan and reach the Leinster SFC quarter-final after a disappointing second-half performance. They didn't score from play for more than 35 minutes after half-time and their opponents' tally of 13 wides told its own story.
Despite the display, Keenan and Co are still in the Leinster Championship and will look to give the Dubs a real test on June 3. However, they know that they got off the hook on Sunday and that major improvements are required.
"That performance won't suffice against Dublin," the midfielder said. "We have an awful lot of work left to do. We are not getting carried away with the win over Westmeath.
"We were pretty poor in the middle of the field. From Tuesday on we will go at it. We are not going up there to make up the numbers. We have to go at them and be confident.
"We were relieved to get through because it wasn't a great performance from us in the second half. We got out of jail really. We kicked a lot of wides, missed a few frees and kicked a couple short in the first half. Our shooting wasn't great, but we were just delighted to get over the line. I am not sure if we really deserved it."
Keenan had plenty of sympathy for a Westmeath team who Louth have now defeated five times in a row. Peter Fitzpatrick's men can empathise on the heartbreak of a late winner, while John Heslin had a chance to take the clash to a replay his side would have deserved, only to put his free wide.
"We know what it is like to be on the receiving end of a late goal," Keenan said. "It is not too often a Louth team comes out of a game like that with a last-minute goal or point to win.
"We will take it, but you cannot paper over the cracks. There were an awful lot of things we did wrong and an awful lot of things we have to work on, so we are not going to get too carried away with it."
O'Connor was the man of the moment at Pairc Tailteann, scoring the winning goal on his Louth debut after being called up to a squad hit with a host of emigrations. Club-mate Keenan knew he had it in him.
"It probably wasn't the cleanest shot in the world, it went in under legs, there was a bit of luck," the skipper said. "Danny is from my own club. He has been playing brilliantly and he was drafted in. He was always good for a goal with the club and now he is doing it for Louth now as well."