Louth secured their place in the last eight of the Leinster Senior Football Championship with a 1-19 to 1-14 win over Wicklow at Parnell Park, with Hunterstown’s Ryan Burns kicking 0-06 to help set up a quarter final clash with fierce rivals Meath.
For the second straight year, Louth will pit themselves against Andy Entee’s Royals after navigating their way past the opening round of the Championship. Making hard work of it throughout as they racked up wides and intermittently conceded cheap scores, Louth ultimately came through against a plucky Wicklow side.
With Burns, Westerns GFC’s Tommy Durnin and Ardee St Marys man John Bingham lining out in Colin Kelly’s starting XV, Louth have built on their league promotion with a successful start in the 2017 Championship campaign. It will come as a significant boost for Kelly who saw his team labour in Dublin this afternoon.
Holding a four point lead at half time, Louth prevailed in the end with a five point advantage. But there were times in the game when Louth looked as if they may regret failing to put The Garden County away. Wicklow’s first half goal came as a result of a poor kick out from goalkeeper Craig Lynch – and that error epitomised Louth’s failings for long periods.
They got off to a good start with the opening two scores. Durnin was heavily involved as Ruairi Moore opening the scoring and Burns got off the mark with a point from open play. Eoin Connor’s 10th minute goal extended the lead before Wicklow struck back.
Anthony Williams was shown a black card and Mark Kenny’s goal edged Johnny Magee’s men in front. In the first half, Burns kicking was exemplary and he put over all three of his free kick attempts before the break. He scored his fourth point – and third free – just before the referee blew his whistle with the score at 1-11 to 1-07 in Louth’s favour.
It was the Hunterstown man who was at it again in the second half, getting Louth’s first score after a strong Wicklow response. But the Wee County failed to hold onto their lead. After Wicklow pulled it back to level the scores at 1-12 each, Burns hit a 45 over the bar for his sixth score of the evening. In his tenth Championship appearance, the Rovers forward has now hit 2-31.
It proved his last act of the game as he was replaced by Naomh Mairtin youngster Sam Mulroy. A surprising choice for withdrawal, the talk in Parnell Park was that surely Louth’s go-to-goalscorer must have a knock. Either way, Louth saw the game through.
Durnin was denied a goal in his fourth Championship outing for Louth. After missing last year’s campaign, he’ll be keen to face Meath in two weeks time no doubt. Wicklow goalkeeper Robert Lambert saved his effort after a fine pick out from Declan Byrne.
Byrne and fellow sub Jim McEneaney proved instrumental in helping Louth see out the game. They scored four unanswered points to put a more comfortable looking tint on the final score. Louth will need to be better than this to beat Meath on June 4th, but expect the Ardee contingent to all keep their places.