THEY say that ‘goals win games’ and so it proved on Sunday as Louth got their Allianz National Football League Division Four campaign off to a successful – if unspectacular start – with a 2-9 to 0-9 victory over London in Darver.
With the pitch at the Gaelic Grounds in Drogheda rendered unplayable yet again, this game was hastily rearranged on Saturday evening with the Centre of Excellence in Darver deemed appropriate for a National League game.
Those who did find out about the decision to switch the game to the wide open spaces of what is, essentially, Louth’s training ground would certainly have been left pining for a bit of shelter from the biting cold and heavy rain that could have been provided by venues such as Haggardstown or Dowdallshill.
Under the guidance of Wexford native Ciaran Deely for the first time, London boasted five debutants in their starting XV, namely Darragh Quinn, Colin Dunne, Senan O’Grady, Adrian Hanlon and Patrick O’Hara.
Fellow debutants Alan Dunne and Ciaran Healy also made their first appearances for the county from the bench.
Supporters’ hands would have been kept firmly in their warm pockets early on as it was the well organised Exiles who started on the front foot.
Full forward Scott Conroy got the ball rolling after eight minutes when he scored from play following good work from Adrian Hanlon, the Tir Chonnail Gaels player who caused Louth problems throughout. Sean Hickey added to that five minutes later as Louth struggled for cohesion early on.
Wee County boss Colin Kelly was forced into an early substitution when Tommy Durnin was forced to withdraw with an injury, Gerard McSorley replacing the Westerns midfielder.
Louth’s failure to make an impact in the final third was highlighted by the amount of times they lost possession of the ball to a green shirt in the opening quarter, but they soon warmed to the task with Declan Byrne getting them off the mark.
The St Mochtas player then played a nice one-two with captain Adrian Reid – the skipper making his 100th appearance in a Louth shirt – before ruthlessly crashing the ball to the net past Gavin McEvoy to give Louth a 1-1 to 0-2 points lead after 15 minutes.
Louth fists were punching the air in triumph again just two minutes later as Jim McEneaney continued his fine run of form of late by finding the net. The Geraldines man fired the ball low into the bottom left hand corner after good work from Conor Grimes and sub Gerard McSorely.
With their tails up, many expected the home side to put London to the sword but Louth failed to take advantage of this purple patch and were guilty of some sloppy play when in charge of the ball.
They only scored one more point in the first-half, from the influential Byrne, and it was London who looked the most threatening with points from Danny Ryan, Adrian Moyles and Lorcan Mulvey leaving them just four points adrift on a 2-3 to 0-5 scoreline at the break.
That gap was cut to three in the early minutes of the second-half when Sean Toner punished Kevin Toner for misjudging a long ball, the Round Towers man converting a point from close range.
Louth needed to fashion a response and they did with three points of their own from Jim McEneaney, Darren McMahon and James Stewart – who as usual put a commendable shift in for the Wee County cause.
That propelled them into a six-point lead with 45 minutes played, but again the Reds failed to press home their superiority and allowed London a potential route back into this game.
Lorcan Mulvey scored two points before Adrian Moyles – another who caused Louth no end of problems – cut the arrears to just three with eight minutes to play.
A 20-minute spell without a score left Louth supporters fearing the worst but London didn’t look as though they would trouble Craig Lynch in the Louth goal and the nerves were settled as a late brace of points from Jim McEneaney and an insurance score from substitute Ruari Moore gave Kelly’s men the win they needed if life in the bottom tier is to be kept at the minimum.
GAME AT A GLANCE
Louth: Declan Byrne, J McEneaney (2f) (1-3 each); James Stewart, Darren McMahon, Ruairi Moore (0-1 each)
London: Lorcan Mulvey (0-3, 1f), Sean Hickey, Adrian Moyles (0-2 each); Danny Ryan, Scott Conroy (0-1 each)
Louth: Craig Lynch; Padraig Rath, Patrick Reilly, Kevin Toner; Derek Maguire, Darren McMahon, Eoghan Lafferty; Tommy Durnin, James Califf; Declan Byrne, James Stewart, Adrian Reid; Conall McKeever, Jim McEneaney, Conor Grimes. Subs: Gerard McSorley for T Durnin, 12 mins; Ruairi Moore for J Califf, 59 mins; John Bingham for P Rath, 62 mins; Ronan Holcroft for D Byrne, 68 mins
London: Gavin McEvoy; Philip Butler, David McGreevey, Darragh Quinn; Caoimhin Carty, Danny Ryan, Colin Dunne; James Moran, Lorcan Mulvey; Adrian Moyles, Senan O’Grady, Adrian Hanlon; Sean Hickey, Scott Conroy, Patrick O’Hara. Subs: Alan Dunne for D Quinn, 50 mins; John Lynch for S Conroy, 50 mins; Shane Buckley for C Dunne, 60 mins; Ciaran Healy for S Hickey, 66 mins
Referee: Paul Faloon (Down)