Sunday 21 July 2019

Kierans sweating over duo

John Savage

Wayne Kierans is sweating over the fitness of Ryan Burns and Andy McDonnell as Louth attempt to build on Saturday's win over Laois when they take on Offaly Tullamore this weekend.

Both players departed prematurely at Croke Park, McDonnell with a calf strain and Burns with an ankle injury.

With inside forwards already thin on the ground, Kierans will be hoping his star duo make a full recovery this weekend.

The manager revealed that William Woods is still a week or two away from full match-fitness, while Ciaran Byrne and Conor Grimes seem unlikely to play any part in the National League campaign.

However, Kierans does have experienced back-up options with Jim McEneaney, Ronan Holcroft and Declan Byrne all amongst the substitutes, with the latter replacing Burns against Laois.

Kierans confirmed that Derek Maguire won’t return until the end of the month as he recovers from a couple of ‘niggles’ picked up on extended club duty with Dundalk Young Irelands.

An unexpected win over Laois eased the pressure on Kierans and his players following an opening round defeat to Longford, but it came as no great shock to the manager.

‘It was the exact response we hoped for and we expected,’ he said. ‘It was the first time they produced it for the full 70 minutes-plus, I think it was nearly 80 minutes in the end. But there were instances and periods of games that made me very happy about the way the team was going, but obviously you have to do it over the full 70 minutes. I was never down-hearted that they wouldn’t come good. I think there is a lot more to come from this team.

‘When you analyse last week, the second-half performance wasn’t actually that bad, so it was about trying to replicate that over the two halves. The goals obviously set us up and they really were well-worked goals. It’s the first time we’ve really built proper goal chances and we had one or two other chances, so that was really pleasing and it gave us something to hang on to. The end was a wee bit frantic which is something we’ll have to look at, but we’re happy. You can’t but be happy winning here and getting our first win in the league.

‘Technically it was better. We built the goals really well and with great quality, whereas last week the stats told us our attacks were poor. We had so many attacks, but only returned five scores. That’s something we tried to work on and the decision-making in building those goal chances was brilliant and it set us up to get a foothold in the game.

‘There was lots of stuff going on with black cards and substitutions, and I’m not having a go at anybody, but it was hard to keep track of it and we were a little bit frantic at times. But having said that the lads managed the game really well and apart from a couple of scrambles, I don’t think Laois really carved us open.’

While the two precious league points were most welcome, Kierans hopes the manner of the win can boost confidence and morale in the Louth camp.

‘With a young panel, and even with older guys, sometimes you get dragged down when you’re not winning games so when you do win, especially at Croke Park against a team that were very impressive last week, it just shows you that there’s not much between the teams and confidence could be the difference.

‘A player with the same physical and tactical attributes who’s low on confidence is a totally different animal to a player high on confidence. People need to recognise that and hopefully this will give everyone confidence, the management team included.

‘I don’t think there’s a hell of a lot in this league. The Leinster flavour makes it extra competitive. Last week we came out on the wrong side, but it could have gone either way. Today I thought we were in control. It’s on to next week now and as I keep saying we weren’t terrible last week and we’re not brilliant this week, but if they keep working there’s loads more to come from these chaps, there really is.’

The Argus