Sunday 19 November 2017

Keenan left to ponder what might have been


IT WAS an incredible sight; the Louth team trooping off on a lap of honour, soaking up the applause from supporters in every pocket of the ground as the victorious Dublin team marched into their dressing room.

One wondered who had actually won the game, but it was an impulsive move by the Louth team and it felt right. As they approached the Hill they must have wondered what reception they'd receive but they needn't have worried. An army of Dublin fans cheered them on their way.

Louth's season is over but midfielder Paddy Keenan reckons there can be no more looking back at their provincial final disaster. They had a chance to regroup yesterday but they never came out of the blocks.

"It's very tough to take," Keenan said. "We are very wary of looking back on the year and seeing the same old sob stories for Louth football. We don't need that. It's a very young team; I think only four of the lads are over 26 and we're in the All-Ireland junior semi-final. We have to build on this.

"I don't think there was a hangover from the Leinster final -- we just never turned up. We didn't front up and we were well beaten in the first half. Lads had regrets over our first half display in the Leinster final and we had them again yesterday. At least we came out in the second half and fought, played a bit better," he told the Sunday Independent.

Dublin forward David Henry was chuffed with their work-rate. "When we work hard everything else follows and that aspect of our game has improved," he said.

"We were mindful of the fact that the Louth midfield could get on top so we won the early exchanges and seemed to settle from there. A good start was important for us."

Henry also welcomed the end product of full-forward Eoghan O'Gara, who scored 2-1.

"Eoghan has been working very hard and he got his results today -- it's only his first season but his confidence will grow from here. Every game will bring him on. But as a team we're starting to settle down and I think we have learned from the defeat to Meath. It's good to be playing in August with the real championship football in action."

Pat Gilroy was his usual calm self. "I don't know if they had a Leinster final hangover -- we just got our hands on the ball and they couldn't. You're always looking for a better performance and we need to improve on taking our scores but some day they might go over for us and I'm encouraged all the time," he remarked.

When asked if he felt sympathy for Louth, he answered: "I felt sorry for Louth after the Leinster championship -- what happened them was an injustice but I couldn't afford to feel sorry for them yesterday."

Gilroy's opposite number, Peter Fitzpatrick, was pragmatic in his analysis. "We didn't show in the first half. Dublin showed for every ball and we were second," he said.

"In the second half, we played a lot better, scored 10 points. Had we done that in the first half, it would have been a different game. But we hope to learn from this experience. It's our fifth game of the championship and we're looking forward to next year."

He said they had no excuses after the Meath saga. "We had two weeks to get ourselves prepared. Whether the occasion got to us or not, I'm not too sure. We regrouped at half-time. I'm sure the Leinster final had some bearing on the game but no excuses -- we were beaten by the better team."

Sunday Independent

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