Saturday 18 November 2017

Keenan insists players won't throw in the towel

John Savage

POST-MATCH interviews during a slump in form are an occupational hazard for team captains, and Paddy Keenan could scarcely hide his frustration and disappointment as he was asked to dissect Louth's third defeat in a row.

It was an improvement on the previous outing in Newry, but the Pat's man insisted that is nothing to brag about.

'It couldn't have been any worse than Down,' he offered. 'We showed a bit more heart and character, especially in the second half, but it's not much consolation - it's still a defeat.'

While Louth did their best to contain Monaghan, it was the goals at either end of the first-half that broke their resolve.

'There were only four or five scores in the first 20 minutes, but we fell asleep twice and you can't do that at this level. The two goals left us with too much to do at half-time, and then the sending-off, it was always going to be uphill after that.'

Dessie Finnegan received the ultimate punishment for his transgressions, but he wasn't alone, and conceding scoreable free-kicks is becoming a major problem for the Reds.

'It's something we'll have continue to work on, but I thought some of them might have been questionable, it seemed like it out there anyway. But it was the same the last day and probably in the previous games too, obviously it's something we have to look at.'

A lack of goals is another worry, but Keenan insists everyone must share that burden.

'We threatened a couple of times, but we haven't created a gilt-edged goal chance in any of the games really. Again, it's something we've worked on in training, but it's obviously something we have to keep working on. Derek was brilliant in there on his own. He did his best and at times he had three or four of them on him. We're not getting up to give him the support he needs. Monaghan have a very well-drilled defence and we didn't get up enough at times and then they had the comfort of the extra man in the second-half.'

Down to 14-men Louth managed to maintain the half-time deficit until the finish, an achievement in itself, but Keenan feels it's time for the team to show some consistency.

'At the very least we showed a bit of heart and bit of character and bit of fight. If you have that it's a good starting point and the lads didn't throw in the towel which we could have been accused of last week. If the players are still willing to battle and fight, that's something.

'Any team that is beaten but 19 points deserves to have a finger pointed at them, but we're still doing our best. Monaghan are a well-drilled team, they are Ulster champions, and they might be that bit ahead of us in that respect.

'But we have three games left and like Aidan said we'll probably need four points plus to stay up. Now is the time to show a bit of character and a bit of fight.'

Beating Galway looks essential if Louth are to have any hope of surviving in Division 2 and Keenan insists they have to take it one game at a time now.

'We have to take the three games individually as they come. We can't afford to be thinking about Donegal or Meath, the focus is completely on Galway. Obviously it'll be an uphill battle from here, but we're completely focused on Galway. You don't want a two-week break after two straight defeats. We have to move straight onto Galway now on Tuesday night.'

All is not lost, however. Louth still have home games against two of the teams they would have been tragetting for victory at the outset and Keenan insists they will fight to the bitter end.

'It would be a different story if players were going to throw the towel in. That's not the case, they're still fighting and pushing as hard as we can in training. Nothing has changed that way and we have to keep at it this week.'

Drogheda Independent

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