Exiles make Louth sweat
Allianz Hurling League Division 3A: Louth 2-12 Lancashire 1-13
Louth hurlers picked up their first two points of the National Hurling League Division 3A campaign with a two point triumph over Lancashire on Saturday in Abbotstown.
The margin between the sides perfectly encapsulated the manner in which Louth zig-zagged their way through much of the game - overwhelmingly comfortable for the majority but frantic come the finish.
Darren Geoghegan's accuracy once again proved crucial. Accounting for half of Louth's total, his poachers goal in the first half proved the difference down the stretch.
The perfectly manicured GAA National Games Development Centre provided the ideal setting for Seaghan Conneely to cause havoc in the game's opening exchanges, his good work set up Gerard McKeown for the opener and saw him win Darren Geoghegan's first free of the afternoon.
Cork native Darren Crowley landed three frees for Lancashire to make it three apiece before Louth upped the ante. With the wind at their backs in the opening half they couldn't find their range until Geoghegan got on the end of a David Kettle centre.
The Moninne man rose the highest and skilfully glanced the sliotar off his hurl to the net, giving Louth the confidence they needed to express themselves.
Gerard McKeown added to his tally, young midfielder Liam Molloy, Ricky McKeown with the help of the keeper and David Kettle himself, all landed from considerable distance to open an eight point lead.
However, Louth took their foot off the gas with the half drawing to a close and Lancashire responded with four unanswered points. Wing back David Power and corner man Tommy Maher, along with a brace of Crowley frees made it 1-8 to 0-7 at half time.
Louth' misuse of the wind advantage would come back to haunt them and their authority was seriously questioned when Crowley narrowed the gap with a point from play on the resumption.
The relentless Geoghegan landed two points to tighten Louth's grip, before David Stephenson fired to the net to tighten it further. At 2-10 to 0-8, the game looked all but over.
From the very next play, Crowley drilled home a free to the roof of the net to make Louth sweat it out, but full of confidence Stephenson neatly finished from a tight angle.
Stephenson was introduced just before half time for Conor Deane who dislocated a finger, Deane came out for the second half as the Brides men are made of stern stuff and Cathal Minogue made way. Fortune would have it, the Fechin's man's tally of 1-1 went along way down the stretch.
Crowley and Geoghegan would trade placed balls but similar to the first half finale, Lancashire finished strongly with four unanswered points.
Midfielder Stephen Duncan and powerful wing forward Seán Hannon drove the ball over with two Crowley frees making Louth's nerves jangle more than they should have.
Louth: Donal Connolly; Andy McCrave, Ricky McKeown 0-1, Mike Lyons; Stephen Kettle, Ger Smyth, Andrew Smyth; Liam Molloy (0-1), Feidhlim Joyce; Cathal Minogue, David Kettle 0-1, Conor Deane; Darren Geoghegan 1-6 (4f), Seaghan Conneely, Gerard McKeown 0-2. Subs: David Stephenson 1-1 for C Deane (34), C Deane for C Minogue (HT),Stephen Hoey for A Smyth (HT), John Martin for R McKeown (42), Padraig Fallon for G Smyth (53), Brian Minogue for F Joyce (67).
Lancashire: Pa Coates; John Hughes, Liam Knocker, Oisin McMahon; David Power 0-1, Greg Jacob, Trevor Lee; Stephen Duncan 0-1, Dáire Maskey; Seán Hannon 0-1, Darren Crowley 1-9, (1-7f, 165), JJ Dunphy; Tommy Maher 0-1, Eoghan Kelly, Shane Dunne. Subs: Ronan McAteer for P Coates (HT), Shane Maloney for J Hughes (52), Dermot Duffy for E Kelly (58), Eoin Doyle for S Dunne Blood (67).
Referee: Gearóid McGrath (Dublin)