London 1-19 Louth 2-26
Louth ended their five-month wait for a win by thumping London in a high-scoring shoot-out at Ruislip.
The Wee County hadn’t tasted victory since beating Kildare in the O’Byrne Cup on January 3rd, but their pace and accuracy proved too hot for London to handle.
William Woods was the star performance in a ruthless forward line that registered only three wides. He finished with 13 points, 12 from placed balls as they confirmed their place in Monday's qualifier draw.
“To score 2-26 is quite an impressive statistic, conceding 1-19 is something we have to look at seriously,” said Louth manager Pete McGrath.
“But I think we did enough today to convince ourselves – players and management – that we are a decent team and if get a half-decent draw we will certainly be optimistic.”
It was Louth’s midfield dominance that paved the way to their strong start, scoring three points inside two minutes of the throw-in.
But their defensive frailties were exposed on nine minutes when London-born forward Ryan Elliott finished off a fantastic attacking move by rounding goalkeeper Neil Gallagher and finishing to the net.
Elliott's strike drew London level but they lost midfielder and Louth native Martin Carroll to a black card on 15 minutes and moments later Ronan Holcroft produced a fine finish for the visitors' first goal.
Conor Grimes fisted home a second shortly before half-time to give Louth a 2-12 to 1-9 lead. Although London did reduce the deficit to four points with 13 minutes left, they never threatened Louth in the closing stages as Woods fired them to a much-needed victory.
“It’s our first competitive win this year apart from an O’Byrne Cup win and I think it will do a lot of good for the confidence, morale and self-belief of these lads,” said McGrath.
LONDON: G McEvoy; P Butler, C Dunne, C Murphy; D Carrabine, R Jones, P Begley; A McDermott, M Carroll; A Moyles (0-10, six frees), M Gottsche (0-1, free), T Waters; R Elliott (1-1), L Gavaghan (0-2, two frees), F McMahon (0-3).
Subs: G Byrne for Carroll (16 mins, black card), M Walsh for Jones (h/t), C O'Neill for Butler (37), L Irwin (0-1) for McDermott (46), E Murray for Carrabine (49, b/c), K Butler (0-1) for Murphy (50).
LOUTH: N Gallagher; D Marks, E Carolan, J Craven; D Maguire, B Duffy, A Williams; A McDonnell (0-1), T Durnin (0-1); C Downey (0-3), D Byrne (0-3), G McSorley (0-3); W Woods (0-13, 11 frees), C Grimes (1-1), R Holcroft (1-1).
Subs: N Conlon for Holcroft (54 mins, black card), T McEnaney for Downey (60), F Donohoe for Marks (65), E Lafferty for Williams (66), A O'Brien for McSorley (70).
Referee: P Hughes (Armagh).