Sunday 18 March 2018

New Louth boss impressed by his Wee squad

Louth boss Pete McGrath says the 'fresh and positive' attitude of his new squad has made his settling-in process a very enjoyable experience.

The new Reds' chief and his backroom team of Declan Mussen, Aaron Hoey and Wayne Kierans have settled on a training panel of 40-odd players and McGrath has been hugely impressed by their application.

'The training squad is picked and they've been working exceptionally hard. They've shown a positive and fresh attitude and they're keen to learn and keen to take things on board and to improve individually and collectively. We've had a few really good chats about our goals and targets and what we want to achieve and they've got through some really good work.'

While fellow Down native Declan Mussen was appointed along with McGrath, Hoey and Kierans have since joined the backroom team and the former All-Ireland winner is impressed by the duo.

'Wayne managed the minors last year and took them to Leinster final and they gave Kerry a good game in the quarter-finals, so we knew we were getting a guy who knows his stuff. He's a real enthusiast with some very good, solid philosophies.

'We're lucky with Aaron because he straddles last year's team and this year's set-up and he's not that long out of the game himself.

'Overall I'd say we see eye-to-eye on our football philosophies, but we'll also challenge each other, which is imortant too, and I think it has the makings of a very strong management team.'

With the new season starting as early as December 30th and the National League kick-off set for January 25th, McGrath insists it's vital his team put that hard graft in now.

The league campaign is certainly daunting, but the new manager insists Louth have nothing to fear.

'We knew the teams in Division 2, but when you see the fixtures and dates and venues, four away games, it brings it closer to reality and there's no doubt it's going to be tough.

'But we have absolutely to fear. If fear is going to be part of our build-up we can throw in the towel now. But these lads have won two consecutive promotions and that's no fluke. This division will test us and stretch us, but we'll be highly competitive in it and no matter what division you play in you are at your level and you'll always be put to the pin of your collar every week.'

The National league campaign starts with a home date with McGrath's native Down and it came as no surprise to the manager.

'I could have told you that before they made the fixtures. It was the same last year, our first game with Fermanagh was away to Down, this time it's at home. But we'll just get on with it, you have to play all seven teams at some stage.'

McGrath also wasn't surprised to hear the O Fiaich Cup had ran into difficulty with HQ. Crossmaglen Rangers have hosted the December tournament for the past three seasons, but it doesn't appear to be going ahead this year.

'The GAA are great people at abolishing competitions. I haven't heard that officially, but that's the word coming through and we'll just have to make do with friendly matches. The O Fiaich Cup would have been ideal because Tyrone, Armagh and Derry aren't in our division and Cross is only over the road, but there you go.'

The Argus