For the second week in a row, Louth agonisingly came away from a crucial National League Division 2,clash with absolutely nothing to show for their honest endeavours.
Despite another brave and battling performance, where we matched and at times bettered a more-fancied Derry XV, Mickey Harte's men, unfortunately, found themselves in arrears when the referee's final whistle sounded.
The manner of the previous round's painful defeat by Clare can't have been an easy pill for the management and players to swallow but there appeared to be no signs of an Ennis hangover as Tom Jackson, playing on familiar terrain, opened the scoring with a fine point to the delight of the sizeable home crowd.
Many latecomers into Páirc Mhuire would have been somewhat surprised to see Dundalk Young Irelands attacker Peter McStravick situated between the Louth uprights but such occurrences appear now to be just part and parcel of the modern game.
Declan Byrne had done okay between the sticks in the absence of James Califf but his kickouts in the final quarter the last day perhaps prompted the change.
Coming off an excellent 2022 campaign, Derry are unbeaten this term and are, along with Dublin, favourites for promotion. Having easily accounted for Limerick in the opening round, the signs looked ominous for the Wee County as Rory Gallagher's side forged 1-4 to 0-2 ahead at the end of the first quarter, the goal courtesy of a Shane McGuigan penalty.
A customary, huge point by Conor Grimes stopped the rot and heralded Louth's best period of the game. Liam Jackson has developed an uncanny knack of getting on the end of moves for crucial goals and he again chipped in with a major on 23 minutes. A couple of Dáire McConnon frees then nudged us in front before McGuigan levelled matters with another free on the short whistle.
If I'm being honest, this was not a game I'd pencilled us in for any points. Derry really impressed me last season and I felt the Ulster champions would be a step too far for us. But you play what's in front of you and with the Oak Leaf men a little off colour, it was now game on.
Four of the next six points went the way of the men in red but there was still a long way to go to the finish – almost 20 minutes, including additional time. The pivotal score of the contest arrived shortly afterwards as Niall Toner pounced on a defensive error to bury the visitors’ second goal.
Although never reaching anything like the heights of last season, Derry tagged on three additional points to give them the buffer they needed to see the game out. There were a couple of opportunities in the frantic closing minutes but Derry just about survived to secure their second win.
In what is another case of so close and yet so far, we've nothing to show for some serious effort in our first two outings. With a little bit of luck, we'd have two and possibly even three points. Maybe it's an over ambitious line of thinking but we weren't that far away from gathering all four.
But there's no point in crying over spilled milk. We are where we are. That's on zero points and sitting just above Limerick and Kildare with a better score difference.
Before a ball was kicked, I figured we'd need five or six points to survive in the division. I'd pencilled in victories over Clare and Limerick and then picking up the additional point(s) from Meath or Cork. I didn't see us getting anything from Derry, Kildare or Dublin.
There's still plenty of games remaining so it's not time just yet to hit the panic button. However, we simply must beat Limerick when the Treaty men visit Ardee in two weeks’ time.