Tuesday 21 May 2019

'Last-eight date with the Dubs is a big incentive'

Louth forward Declan Byrne has now reached veteran status, especially when one looks around the youthful Louth dressing-room.

Yet, despite seeing it all before, his appetite for the Leinster Championship still remains as strong as ever and if anything the current age profile has freshened up the more experienced heads in the squad.

'The harder sod Championship's a different ball game,' he smiled through the cliches.

'We've a lovely blend of youth and experience there and I think the lads are playing with a freedom all year. The younger lads are really driving the older lads, like myself and a few others on.

'The competition for places is red-hot and we are lucky enough now we have a few lads coming back. The likes of William [Woods], Conor Grimes and that, so thats going to make things even better.

'Everyone is chomping at the bit. There is a big incentive there. The winners play Dublin and you always want to pitch yourself against the best. We'll be doing our damnedest to try and get a date with the Dubs.'

That competition on the training ground means the camp is absolved of egos and that is what Byrne reckons has been Louth's greatest strength this season, honesty of effort.

'One thing we've had this year, we've a level-headed bunch of lads that take it one game at a time. You've seen that in the league. There is one thing this team won't be faulted on, and that's effort. Thats the big thing that stood out during the league.'

The 'club' month of April did pose problems, but Mochta's man Byrne is around long enough to not let that become an excuse and he reckons they are more than prepared.

'Wayne [Kierans] and Graham [Byrne, fitness coach] have been very good to us,' Byrne revealed.

'It has been a wee bit broken this last few weeks with the club scene. It has been difficult to get to Darver and get any work done, but it is similar in every county. We've a lot of the hard graft and slogging done throughout the league and hopefully we can bring our A game.

'It has been recovery sessions, keeping the bodies right. You are not going to gain a whole pile in terms of fitness, it's more tactical,' he added.

Looking to directly to Sunday, Byrne is eager to right the wrong of Louth's recent dismal record against the Slaneysiders.

'We've had many a battle in the past and probably didn't come out on top too often,' he said.

'Coming from Division 4, they probably have had a poor enough season so far, with three wins, but it is going to be difficult. We are going to have to be right up to our normal levels to get the win.'

The Argus