Saturday 20 October 2018

McGrath pulls no punches as Louth face long road back

Manager's comments raise eyebrows, writes Donnchadh Boyle

Louth boss Pete McGrath in pensive mood during Sunday’s loss to Carlow. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Louth boss Pete McGrath in pensive mood during Sunday’s loss to Carlow. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

Louth manager Pete McGrath might not have won himself any new admirers for his brutally frank assessment of his side's performance against Carlow but he's been around long enough to know there was no point in trying to dress it up.

After watching his Louth side be thoroughly dismantled by Carlow, McGrath spoke for nearly seven minutes with the assembled media. Louth were just three points down with a little over ten minutes to play but the final margin of 13 points was more representative of just how much Carlow were in control.

And as such, he eschewed the usual sound bites and instead posed some hard questions for both himself and his players as they face a long road back if they are to salvage anything from the summer.

Medication

"The qualifiers can be a form of medication if you get a reasonable draw," offered the Down native. "You could be drawn against the losers of Mayo and Galway or Monaghan and Tyrone and that wouldn't be pretty.

"What the rest of the season holds I don't know but to date you have to say it has been a pretty calamitous season."

Sunday's game represented an eighth consecutive defeat across league and championship since McGrath took charge in the wake of his departure from Fermanagh under a cloud. But he insists he thought they would be capable of more than they have shown so far.

"I wasn't sure what Louth football was like," he said, when asked if he expected to struggle when he first took charge.

"I know they had got two consecutive promotions and all of that. I found out early on with the unavailability of players and a couple of injuries that it was going to be a struggle but I felt the players were up to it and management was up to it but the league didn't really...

"We had some good performances in the league, the matches that we lost, parts of them we played very well in but when you go seven straight defeats in the league you know there is going to be collateral damage going into the championship psychologically and maybe that surfaced.

"There were a lot of turnovers. In the first half we were turned over 12 times, a lot of that in our own forward line. We emphasised and did a lot of work on tackling and disciplined tackling, we knew they were deadly on the frees with (Paul) Broderick in particular and yet we conceded frees.

"(Those) weaknesses we had tried to eradicate over the past few weeks surfaced again whenever the pressure was on. There was bad passing, poor break ball play from the kick-out, theirs and ours - that showed a lack of energy and a lack of hunger. So all these things escalated as the second half went on and it was just I think a very, very disappointing and disheartening day for Louth football."

McGrath stopped short of saying he regretted taking the job but admits they have an ocean of work to do before the qualifiers.

"When you have lost a match like that and you feel not only disappointed but devastated. You don't regret it but you say I have maybe made better decisions in my life. But you go on, we'll see what the rest of the season holds, get the players together Friday night and try and sift through the carnage and the debris and man up for what lies ahead in the qualifiers."

Irish Independent

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