The Cooley native was speaking after Louth’s incredible Gerry Reilly Cup final win over Meath
Johnny Clerkin admits Louth U16s’ incredible display in Sunday’s Gerry Reilly Cup final exceeded expectation.
The Reds had 11 points to spare over Meath in Oldcastle, capturing the title for the first time in the competition’s history.
Ardee St Mary’s prospect Adam Gillespie was named Man of the Match after shooting 1-2, while Stabannon Parnells’ Dylan Shevlin bagged 2-2.
“That was as good as it gets,” said the former Cooley Kickhams and O Raghallaighs defender, who is joined on the management by David Reid, Seán McCann, James Califf and Seán Hand.
“I’m delighted with the lads – all you can ask is that they go out and work hard. After that, the result looks after itself. Every man that’s come over this past 18 months, that’s what we’ve got, 100pc.
“We came here to play Kildare (semi-final) and it ended up a bit one-sided, which we didn’t expect. Then you come here to play a Meath team that you don’t really know anything about. So you ask for 100pc and if the performance comes with it, you can be lucky to be on the right side of the result.
“Colin Kelly asked us to get involved with the development squad last year. We’d no idea of what it was about really – I wasn’t in a development squad. But we said we’d give our time and give back a wee bit of knowledge – very little!
“We’re very limited in what we have (in coaching experience) but what we can offer is what you see in the lads – togetherness and camaraderie. To teach the skills and the way they play, I’m a big believer in just sending lads out to play football and the man in the best position gets the ball.
“Workrate and hard work as well. After that, tactics, of course, but that’s more down the line. At this level, if you ask any of the lads in the team, they love playing in it.”
The present coaching ticket are in the running to succeed Aaron Hoey in charge of the Louth minors, with Cooley Kickhams’ Paul Gallagher also having been nominated ahead of a pending interview process.
Not that Clerkin was giving much away in regard to whether he felt himself and the other selectors would get a chance to lead this promising group into next season’s Leinster U17 Championship.
“It’s not really for us to decide,” he said.
“It’s public knowledge that our name is in the hat but I think anybody that takes those lads next year will have nothing but a great time with them.
“For us, it’s been an 18-month thing just to get a feel for building a team. This year is important and U15 was important, but the end goal is to go and play U17s, or U20s, with the eventual aim of playing senior football.
“This is brilliant. Those lads won’t have the stigma of being beaten by a Meath team in a final going into another final. But the end goal is to produce four, five or six lads to play in the Louth senior team and we’re just a cog in that wheel.
“Hopefully, these development squads seem to be going in the right direction. The U15s had a good day (on Saturday) and the U14s are going well.”