No positives to be taken from Louth’s poor performance in Leinster U20 defeat by Dublin

Dublin 2-16 Louth 0-7

The Louth U20 team before their round one draw with Offaly in Stabannon. Picture: Aidan Dullaghan/Newspics

Caoimhín Reilly

There were no positives to be taken from Louth’s U20 championship defeat by Dublin at Parnell Park last Tuesday night.

On the face of it, there is method to being tactically hard to break down with 15 men behind the ball, but you must, therefore, have an attacking plan and that is something the Reds clearly don’t have.

If the idea has been to mirror the seniors, who have been refining their counter-attacking style over a 12-month period or longer, then a two-week crash course was never going to be enough to avoid a performance such as this.

Louth’s full-back line was put under severe pressure during the development league and, so, Christy Grimes, Derek Walsh and the coaching team may have looked at trying to give them more protection by withdrawing bodies to within the confines of their own half when out of possession. The issue now is that there are plenty of red jerseys in a restricted space but absolutely no pressure on ball carriers and almost every player is just present as opposed to being in any way effective.

There were men walking around as Dublin moved the ball around the periphery of the scoring zone before carving incisions with angled runs or blowing pores with their greater power. But then it was all too easy. The Dubs scored three marks in the first half as Louth defenders came trotting five to 10 yards behind. Meanwhile, the supposed defending for each of the goals was worse than woeful. Why get all these men back if your markers are maintaining a social distance?

At the other end, Tom Matthews was unfortunate to see an early shot at goal saved, while Kieran McArdle watched an effort be deflected behind for a 45. And Louth actually led early in the match after Harry Butterly split the posts with a 45. But the Dubs replied with seven in a row – their full-forward, Luke Breathnach, was absolutely class, Luke Ward linked the play, Darragh Dempsey was lively and Tom Brennan performed impressively off the wing.

Seán Reynolds was excellent throughout for Louth, while James Rogers did well in the second half, but the game was as good as gone at the break when the hosts led by 0-9 to three, with each of the Reds’ notches coming from dead ball opportunities.

Midfielder Dara McDonnell eventually opened Louth’s account from play at the beginning of the second period, but Joe Quigley’s penalty conversion on 42 minutes was the outcome of dreadful defending and a rash challenge. Substitute Caelum Moriarty completed the rout in time added on.

DUBLIN: Andrew Smith; Eoghan O’Connor-Flanagan, Theo Clancy, Evan Nugent; Alex Gavin, James Cotter, Dan O’Leary; Ethan Dunne, Greg McEneaney 0-1; Conor Dolan 0-1, Luke Ward, Tom Brennan 0-3; Darragh Dempsey 0-2 (1m), Luke Breathnach 0-7 (3m, 1f), Joe Quigley 1-1 (1-0p, 0-1f). Subs: Michael McDonald for Dunne (44), Seamus Smith 0-1 for Ward (48), Caelum Moriarty 1-0 for Brennan (53), Kalem O’Brien for Breathnach (54), Dara McGrath for Cotter (57).

LOUTH: Josh Finlay; Mark Holohan, Beanón Corrigan, Fionn Tipping; Cameron Maher 0-1, Seán Reynolds, Tadhg McDonnell; Dara McDonnell 0-1, Seán Callaghan; James Rogers, Kieran McArdle 0-2 (2f), Liam Flynn; Darragh Dorian, Tom Matthews, Harry Butterly 0-1 (1 45). Subs: Cillian Taaffe for Liam Flynn (24), Kyle McElroy 0-2 (2f) for Darragh Dorian (24), Daniel Reilly for Butterly (47), Ben Gartlan for Maher (54).

REFEREE: Keith O’Brien (Westmeath).