Tuesday 16 July 2019

So far so good for Louth sides in Leinster action

Seamus O'Hanlon - Sidelines

St Mochtas maintained Louth's excellent recent record in the Leinster Intermediate championship with a fine 1-10 to 0-11 win over Meath champions Longwood at Ardee.

Extra time was required after the sides finished level 1-7 to 0-10 at the end of normal time. The Louth Village men led for the majority of the game through a Philly Englishby first-half goal but it again was Declan Byrne who stepped up to the plate adding three frees in extra-time including a delightful sideline ball.

They now face Laois champions Courtwood in the quarterfinals at another home venue in two weeks time.

Dundalk Young Irelands travelled to The Downs on Saturday to take on Westmeath champions Kilbeggan Shamrocks in the provincial Junior championship. The Dundalk men narrowly ground out victory by 1-09 to 0-09 with their reward being a home fixture against Annanough from Laois in a fortnights time.

Senior champions Newtown Blues have another week to wait for their quarter final fixture at home to Eire Og from Carlow.

The Blues are in my opinion on the right side of the draw with all the big guns in the other half. Rhode from Offaly or St Colombas from Longford await the winners in the semi final.

Double chance

After wrapping up the league title in some style several weeks ago, Dundalk travel to the Aviva Stadium on Sunday with hopes of securing their first double since 2015.

Stephen Kenny's side have had a wonderful 2018 season and putting one over their arch rivals Cork City in the Cup Final would cap the year off nicely.

Amazingly this is the fourth season in a row that the two teams have faced off in the cup final decider with Cork currently holding the upperhand with two wins to one.

All three previous encounters finished level after 90 minutes with the 2015 and 2016 matches being decided in extra-time.

Last year's decider was an even tighter affair with 120 minutes failing to separate the teams. The Leesiders eventually prevailed 5-3 on penalties.

None of the three previous finals were classics as both teams tactics and familiarity cancelled each other out.

The leagues top scorer Patrick Hoban is a slight doubt for the game with an ankle injury picked up against Bohemiams but all reports suggest he will be fit to take his place on Sunday.

Captain Stephen O Donnell could also feature following his speedy return from that leg break just five months ago.

I was surprised to read during the week that this will be Hoban's first ever game at the Aviva. He wasn't around for the last three finals.

Hoban was the league's joint top scorer in 2014 and his 20 goals helped Dundalk secure a first league title under Stephen Kenny. His performances that season especially in Europe brought him to the attention of clubs across the water and he eventually signed with Oxford at the end of the 2014 campaign.

But his second spell in England (he previously spent time at Bristol city as a teenager) proved hugely frustrating. He spent time on loan at Stevenage and Grimsby before joining Mansfield Town in 2016.

When the League Two side released him at the end of last season it opened the door for a return to Oriel Park. With Dave McMilan departing for St Johnstone, Dundalk were in the market for a quality centre forward.

The timing couldn't have been better and 'The Hobanator' has delivered big time for the trust his manager has shown in him.

With Ireland currently struggling for goals at senior international level, a good performance and another goal or two could see him break into Martin O Neill's squad for the upcoming games against Northern Ireland and Denmark.

The Argus