'Dee-sappointed' boss encouraged by performance
DEE McCarthy wasn't too downbeat after his side's opening-day defeat to Roscommon at an icy Darver on Sunday.
The Louth boss felt his team put themselves into a winning position at half-time, but two quick goals and a virtuoso display of free-taking by Gerry Fallon swung the momentum back in Roscommon's favour in the third quarter.
'We came targeting the win, I won't deny that,' he said. 'We were maybe a bit coy during the week, but Roscommon are the benchmark in the division along with Donegal and we got ourselves into position at half-time to kick on and win the game.
'The lads were positive in the dressing room and we were happy with the performance. But we gave away a couple of goals and the frees really killed us. They got 14 frees and your man put every one of them over the bar. At this level, if a lad is scoring 14 frees you're going to find it hard to win.
'We spoke there on the pitch and the lads are very, very down, but that's a good thing, because they know it's two points they let slip and they'll be determined to go to Enniskillen next week and get them back.'
Overall McCarthy felt the performance offered hope and encouragment for the remaining League games and Nicky Rackard Cup.
'We're very happy with the performance, the commitment, the effort and the heart they showed. They never stopped from the first whistle until the last and you can't ask for any more than that.
'They gave us a bit of trimming here three or four weeks ago and I suppose everyone was wondering if they were that far ahead of us. But we got the lads back together again and trained hard and the product of the effort they put in was there for all to see - there was nothing between the sides. If we were to play them again in the morning we would have nothing to fear. By the same token they have no fear of us either, but we'll be looking to get back into a final against them at the end of March.'
At times it was an over-fussy display by referee Fergus Smith, and with Fallon around that was always going to play into Roscommon's hands. McCarthy refused to be drawn on the official's performance, however.
'I'm not going to down the road of commenting on referees, I suppose we got a few handy ones ourselves. We'll look at the stats later and see what we conceded from frees and look at how we can tidy up on that. I think if we can tidy up on that side of things we'll be competitive and hard to beat.'
There's a quick turnaround and long trip to Enniskillen to contend with thsi weekend and Mccarthy isn't underestimating Fermanagh.
'They have come up from Division 3B so they'll be on a bit of a high. Fermanagh hurling would be similar to Louth, they'd have four or five clubs. Lisbellaw would be the strong club, but Fermanagh would always produce strong hurlers. In this division home advantage is crucial and Fermanagh will be up for it. They won't be far off what we've seen today.'
Having Diarmuid Murphy back for the spring campaign is a big boost to the Reds and the manager is also happy with Ronan Byrne's progress.
'Diarmuid is one of main men, and no disrespect to anyone, our full forward line functions better when Diarmuid is in it and he brings other lads into the game. He has a couple of Nicky Rackard All-Stars in his pocket and he didn't get them for his good looks. We'll try and get him more into the play and feed him quicker, and we have chaps like Ronan Byrne coning back there too.
'Overall we're happy with the performance and committment from everyone, we can't ask for any more than that.'