McGrath confident Louth will bounce back against Carlow
Pete McGrath has ruled Jim McEneaney and John Bingham out of Louth's Leinster Championship opener with Carlow in Portlaoise on Sunday (2.00). McEneaney has lost his race to recover from a shoulder operation and will now be targeting a potential quarter-final date with Kildare on May 27th or a first-round qualifier in early June for his return.
Bingham is still out with a long-term knee injury and could miss the rest of the Reds' season. But there was better news in relation to Sam Mulroy and Niall Conlon, with McGrath revealing: 'Sam has worked exceptionally hard over the last number of months and he's back playing club football. He played the last 20 minutes of a challenge against Wicklow last Wednesday night and he had a full session the following Monday, so he's now a real option to play a part.
'Niall Conlon, likewise, is back with the club and did a full session with full contact.' McGrath also allayed any fears about Ryan Burns' fitness, revealing that the Hunterstown man played the full game against Wicklow and has taken a full part in training since.'
Louth go into the Carlow showdown on the back of a dreadful National League campaign, but McGrath insists the Championship is a very different animal. 'When you get within sight of the Championship, the adrenalin pumps a lot stronger. You're training on good summer evenings and you can sense an extra bit of focus, energy and intent in the players. It's up to us as management to ensure they're up to Championship speed and I've noticed over the last few weeks that we're getting there. The National League was a hard learning curve, but we're better for it and I think we'll bring that into the game against Carlow.
'We've looked at plenty of footage of them. We know how they set up and we know they work very hard and that they get a lot men back behind the ball. They crowd the final third in front of their goal and break out with pace. They have a winning mentality after securing promotion, but interestingly they've lost their last two competitive games, both to Laois.
'But whatever Carlow put on the table we will match and I think surpass. I think we've got better players and a better team, and we have players who know what Championship football at this level is about. 'Championship football is about courage, desire and hunger. Football ability is important, but it's secondary and maybe even in third place behind desire and energy and will-to-win and I'm sure if we display those qualities we'll win, because we have very good footballers in this panel,' McGrath added.