Goal-hungry Louth see off Wexford to set up semi-final clash with Kildare

Ciarán Downey’s two dynamite finishes and two penalties from Sam Mulroy seal the deal

Leinster SFC quarter-final: Louth 4-10 Wexford 0-15

By the three-quarters mark in Portlaoise, this entertaining Leinster quarter-final was shaping up to be an uprising of the downtrodden, as Division Four Wexford were well in the contest against their privileged opponents, Louth, a couple of years in Division Two banked and earning them a good return.

In the end, it turned into simply an illustration of why teams are downtrodden. Louth had too much clinical efficiency and attacking quality and in time-honoured fashion, made off with that most capitalist of outcomes — a result that didn’t reflect what the losers had put into the contest.

Four goals made the difference. Both managers accepted and mentioned that Wexford had put up more scores than the winners but there’s a reason why green flags are worth three times a white one.

Having been hustled out of the match for an extended period, Louth first kept afloat and then pulled away thanks to the buoyancy of their goal-scoring. Wexford’s four-point lead at the end of the first half was dismantled after the first of Ciarán Downey’s thunderbolts.


His second gave Louth a three-point lead at the start of the final quarter, a dynamite finish after a surge through the middle of the defence. Wexford refused to go away but as they desperately sought points to get back into the match, they leaked two further goals.

Both were penalties and both were earned by the elusive movement of Ciarán Keenan, who ended up being taken down on each occasion. One of the game’s leading dead-ball exponents, Sam Mulroy, extracted full compensation from the awards and Wexford were bailing out a sinking vessel, using egg cups.

Louth might even have had a third penalty, early in the match in the 13th minute when Eoin Porter looked to have taken down Ryan Burns although the latter’s ostentatious reaction to the foul may have contributed to the referee’s decision to wave on play.

Wexford manager John Hegarty insisted afterwards that they hadn’t come to “give a good account” of themselves and that was why he was feeling so disappointed. He was a little vexed at referee Séamus Mulhare’s decision to black card corner back Eoin Porter in the 40th minute for provocative behaviour after Wexford had lifted a siege, featuring a point-blank save and a ball scrambled off the line.

“I’ve never ever heard of it. He celebrated a block and went out celebrating. I mean, I think Derry, Dublin probably have had a few of those provocative type black cards. But look, that being said, my point is the response to each of the goals was not to drop our heads, not a lack of belief, and we pushed up and we got good scores into the wind.”

A man down, they actually won the sin bin period by a point to nil.

In the first half, they had been very resourceful. Showing a feisty energy in pushing forward, they led by four, 0-8 to 0-4, after 27 minutes. Fluid attacking from the back and well-taken scores were in evidence from the team that had set a county championship record for scoring a week earlier when overwhelming Carlow.

They were also sharp at the back, cutting off the routes to goal, getting in deft tackles and breaking fast from defence on turnover ball whereas the centrefield of Liam Colemen and Niall Hughes mopped up a load of aerial ball.

Louth manager Ger Brennan was relieved to get his championship up and running even with question marks over performance.

“We made a lot of unforced errors in possession, which was frustrating when we didn’t have the ball and allowing Wexford back into it. They didn’t care that they were playing a Division Two team, so a lot of it is down to Wexford.”

In the end, their forwards did the necessary, opening up their opponents for the four crucial goals but the defence also made it hard for Wexford to get within goal range themselves.

Louth progress to a semi-final against Kildare, who they defeated in the last round of the league. Their manager is aware that better may well be needed.

“We have to be a bit more adventurous in our defensive play in terms of stepping up and making contacts. I thought we were shrinking back a fair bit and allowing Wexford build momentum.

“We’ve all played in games where you’re going in as a favourite and expected to win and sometimes, are the juices flowing when the ball is thrown in? I don’t think they were flowing enough for us today; they were certainly flowing for Wexford.”

LOUTH: N O’Donnell; D McKenny, D Campbell, P Lynch; L Grey, A Williams, C McKeever; T Durnin (0-2), C Murphy; C Downey (2-0), C Keenan, C Grimes (0-1, m); R Burns (0-1), S Mulroy (2-4, 2-0 pen, 0-4f), T Jackson (0-1).

Subs: L Jackson (0-1) for T Jackson, B Duffy for Murphy, N Sharkey for Grey (all 46 mins); D Corcoran for Campbell (64), P Matthews for Durnin (68).

WEXFORD: R Tubritt; E Porter, D Lyons, G Sheehan; D Furlong, P Hughes (0-2), G Malone (0-2); L Coleman (0-2, 0-1 45), N Hughes; K O’Grady (0-1), E Nolan, M Rossiter (0-2); G Cullen (0-3), S Nolan (0-3, 0-2f), B Brosnan.

Subs: C Kinsella for Brosnan, T Byrne for E Nolan (both 49 mins); R Waters for Cullen (61), S Pettit for Rossiter (66), J Bealin for O’Grady (70).

Referee: S Mulhare (Laois).

Seán Moran

Seán Moran

Seán Moran is GAA Correspondent of The Irish Times