Louth’s senior footballers began their 2017 season in earnest on Sunday afternoon – as they saw off the challenge of Westmeath at Cusack Park in Mullingar by a score of 1-09 to 0-11.
Colin Kelly was without some of his younger charges, including Hunterstown’s Ryan Burns, as they represent their colleges as opposed to counties in the O’Byrne Cup, but there were two Rovers players in the panel – back David Finn and midfielder Tony McKenna.
Adding to the local interest in the 27-strong-squad was Ardee St Marys duo John Bingham and Ronan Carroll and Westerns GFC’s Tommy Durnin. Carroll was returning to the senior Louth fold once again after featuring for the junior side in 2016.
The Ardee man is one of the more experienced heads in a young squad – having made his senior bow back in 2006 and his knowhow will be vital as the Wee County return to the third tier after promotion last year. He featured in Louth’s Division Three winning side six years ago.
Of the five locally based players in the Louth panel for the O’Byrne Cup opener in Mullingar in Westmeath, only Durnin earned a place in the starting XI and the Westerns man scored an early point as the two sides exchanged blows in the opening stages.
Derek Crilly’s goal ensured Louth held a three point advantage going into the break and that provided decisive as Colin Kelly’s side ran out winners by a solitary point in the end – the perfect start to 2017 and a positive to take into Wednesday’s game against Maynooth University in Darver.
Carroll entered the fray in the second half to get around 15 minutes under his belt, while Bingham and Finn were late introductions, playing seven and five minutes respectively. McKenna, Louth’s junior player of the year in 2016, was an unused substitute.
Those players can expect to get more minutes against Maynooth and Carlow IT in the next few games with Kelly keen to get a look at all of his options before whittling down his squad for the upcoming Division Three league campaign.
Louth have not won the O’Byrne Cup since 2009, when they beat DCU in the final for their fourth triumph in the competition.