Louth put on a show in front of the television cameras at O’Moore Park in Portlaoise this evening – as the Wee County demolished Laois by 2-16 to 0-10 in the opening match of the 2017 Allianz National Football League.
Hunterstown’s Ryan Burns and Westerns midfielder Tommy Durnin started the match and they scored three and two points each respectively as Louth made the transition from Division Four to Division Three look seamless in a match that was broadcast live on eirSport.
Speaking ahead of the match, eirSport analyst Senan Connell marked out Burns as a player he was looking forward to seeing. The forward was making his first start of the year in Louth colours after representing DCU in the early rounds of the O’Byrne Cup. It didn’t take him long to make an impact on the game.
He opened the scoring for the evening from open play after coming in off the left and hitting a superb effort over the bar after seven minutes. Paraic Smith followed up a quickfire brace of points with a well taken goal as Louth surged ahead – helped by the Laois wastefulness at the other end.
19 minutes were on the clock when Burns struck from a dead ball situation to extend the Louth lead to five and that was the lead Colin Kelly’s men took into the dressing room at half time. The blot on their copy book was yellow cards to Bevan Duffy and Rovers’ forward Burns.
Durnin, in tandem with Andy McDonnell, was influential and physical in midfield and he got on the scoresheet 13 minutes into the second period. A good move – Louth’s quick passing and movement was exceptional all evening – ended in Burns passing short to the Westerns man who slotted over. That made it 1-11 to 0-07 and when McDonnell struck a second goal soon after, it was all but over.
From a central position, Burns kicked over his third point of the night from a free to but the visitors 14 points in front shortly before Durnin notched again with another fine effort after a surge from deep. With five minutes remaining, Burns left the field as Kelly made three changes. Ardee St Marys’ John Bingham replaced James Stewart.
There was still enough time for Bingham to pass up a presentable goalscoring chance. He didn’t get hold of his shot and the tame effort was easy from Graham Brody. Durnin received a yellow card in injury time but that was inconsequential at the end of a night that saw a job not only done, but completed in some style.
Louth’s return to Division Three football could hardly have got off to a better start. Next up is the visit of Longford to Drogheda next Sunday.