Gallant Reds lose nothing in defeat to Derry
Nicky Rackard Cup: Derry 2-17 Louth 1-12
Before this game threw in the murmurings from worried Louth supporters around Dowdallshill was that a hammering could very well be on the cards for Phillip O'Brien and Ken McKenna's young side.
After all, Louth had lost all six of their national league games in Division 3A and had been beaten twice by a Monaghan side who themselves were annihilated by Derry just two weeks ago in the Ulster Shield semi-final.
That 37-point defeat sent shivers down the spines of many Louth supporters who travelled to Dowdallshill on Saturday afternoon with very little hope against a side who started with four of the Slaughtneil side who reached this year's All Ireland Senior Club Championship semi-final.
And those fears seemed to be well founded early on as Derry raced into a four-point lead with the unerringly accurate Ruairi Convery scoring four frees in the opening five minutes.
Louth, however, were in no mood to roll over for their division 2B opponents and they were soon level thanks to three points in quick succession from Liam Dwan, Michael Ryan and Gerard Smyth.
As the half wore on Derry began to find gaps in the Louth defence and but for some excellent last ditch defending from Stephen Kettle and Mike Lyons, the Oak Leaf men could have been out of sight before half time.
Derry did finally get their goal in the eighteenth minute as Meehal McGrath found the bottom corner of the net after Ciaran Steele's original shot had been saved. Derry finished the half strongly and went in at half time 1-10 to 0-5 up, and looking in complete control.
The second half began with the sides trading points before Louth put the cat amongst the pigeons with a well-worked goal created by Liam Dwan.
The Louth number 13 found space down the right before unleashing a fierce shot which was saved by Derry goalkeeper Daryl McDermott. However, the ball spilled across the goalmouth before full forward David Kettle scrambled the ball home to make it 1-13 to 1-8.
That goal visibly lifted Louth who enjoyed their best period of the match following that score from Kettle.
Two more frees from Fechin's man Paddy Lynch made it 1-15 to 1-12 and suddenly there was just a goal between the sides with ten minutes remaining.
Derry responded with a couple of changes with Gerald Bradley and Paddy Henry coming in to try and halt Louth's momentum.
Unfortunately for Louth, Derry began to wrestle back control of the game and any thoughts of a famous comeback were ended as Alan Grant found the back of the net following an error from Shane Nolan in the Louth goal.
Derry closed out the game with a Darragh Cartin point to seal victory against a very competitive Louth side who can hold their heads high following an excellent second half performance.
Derry: Daryl McDermott, Sean McCullagh, Sean Cassidy, Darragh McCloskey, Paul Cleary 0-1, Liam ÓgHinphey 0-1, Kevin Hinphey 0-2, Brian ÓgMcGilligan, Conor McAllister, Ruairi Convery 0-11 (10fs), Meehal McGrath 1-0, Alan Grant 1-0, Oisin McCloskey, Ciaran Steele 0-1, Aaron Kelly. Subs: Gerald Bradley for Brian ÓgMcGilligan, Darragh Cartin 0-1 for Aaron Kelly, Mark McGuigan for Ciaran Steele, Paddy Henry for Oisin McCloskey.
Louth: Shane Nolan, Stephen kettle, Mike Lyons, Paul Chaloner, Paddy McCormack, Roger Maher, Andy McCrave, Donal Ryan, Seaghan Conneely, Gerard Smyth 0-1, Diarmuid Murphy 0-3, Paddy Lynch 0-4 (3fs), Liam Dwan 0-2, David Kettle 1-1, Michael Ryan 0-1. Subs: David Mahony for Gerard Smyth, David Stephenson for Paddy Lynch, Conor Mathews for David Kettle.
Referee: Tony Carroll (Offaly).