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Proud Mickey Harte says Louth must prepare for ‘the next level’

Having earned back-to-back promotions as well as picking up his first championship win in charge, the Tyrone man has challenged his Wee players to maintain the county’s upwardly mobile trajectory moving into the Division 2 cauldron next season

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Preparing for “the next level” is Louth’s task at hand, according to manager Mickey Harte, who watched his side exit the All-Ireland series after defeat by Cork at Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Saturday afternoon. Picture: Sportsfile

Preparing for “the next level” is Louth’s task at hand, according to manager Mickey Harte, who watched his side exit the All-Ireland series after defeat by Cork at Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Saturday afternoon. Picture: Sportsfile

Preparing for “the next level” is Louth’s task at hand, according to manager Mickey Harte, who watched his side exit the All-Ireland series after defeat by Cork at Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Saturday afternoon. Picture: Sportsfile

Preparing for “the next level” is Louth’s task at hand, according to manager Mickey Harte.

The Reds were knocked out of the All-Ireland series by Cork at Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Saturday afternoon despite a performance much-improved on the Leinster Championship loss to Kildare.

Having earned back-to-back promotions as well as picking up his first championship win in charge, the Tyrone man has challenged his Wee players to maintain the county’s upwardly mobile trajectory moving into the Division 2 cauldron next season. 

“Plenty of teams would be proud of winning Division 3,” said Harte, reflecting back on the campaign.

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“After two games it looked like we were relegation material and I think the players knuckled down and had a really good run to get to the final, and win it.

“There’s a lot to be proud of and a lot for the players to be happy about, but it’s asking the question now of ourselves – we’re up into Division 2 and this (display in Cork) is the kind of form and standard we need every day we go out, and better than that considering some of the teams that’s in Division 2 next year.

“This is a good experience for the players and it’s given them time to say, ‘let’s do some of the work that needs to be done’.

“There’s certain things you can’t fast-forward, it takes time to mature players to the physical state that those at it three or four years are at now. There’s no way of fast-forwarding it. It takes time, dedication and effort and I think the boys now realise that this is a stage-by-stage process. We’ve got to prepare to be at the next level.”

Louth’s approach to the game certainly didn’t please the locals who were audible in venting their displeasure at various stages of the match, including midway through the second half when boos rang out around the Leeside venue.

Yet it was a tactical set-up that allowed the Reds to stay in touch until the dying embers and one which Cork so visibly struggled to penetrate. 

So, is that a blueprint for Louth moving into the second tier in 2023, a division in which four of the provincial finalists – Dublin (winners), Derry (winners), Kildare and Limerick – will operate  as well?

“You have to have lots of things you’re able to do,” added Harte.

“It’s about the weather, the players you have on any given day and the opposition.

“You can’t go out and say, ‘this is the way we’re going to play football regardless of what we encounter’.

“You play the football you need to play to get to where you want to go at a particular time.

“It’s a very fluid situation and we need to be able to apply different methods of play confidently and competently – that takes time and effort.”


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