As expected, Louth will occupy the spot reserved for the beaten Leinster finalists in Group 1 of the upcoming All-Ireland SFC group stage. They lost out this afternoon in the Leinster decider to Dublin, who wrapped up their gazillionth provincial title in a row on a scoreline of 5-21 to 0-15. As the Leinster runners-up, Louth now join Kerry, ourselves and Cork in Group 1.
The Wee County, buoyed by enormous support this afternoon at Croke Park, started brightly, with Dublin only registering their opening point after eight minutes. Once the Metropolitans got motoring, though, they proceeded to rip Louth asunder with grim efficiency. The Dubs had all of 21 points to spare at the finish.
The permanent holders of the Delaney Cup clearly look to be in fine fettle as the start of the Championship proper approaches. Drawn in a group along with Sligo, Roscommon and Kildare, Dessie Farrell’s charges aren’t likely to face any probing examination of their capabilities over the next few weeks either, with their place in the All-Ireland quarter-finals all but assured before a ball is kicked.
Louth, meanwhile, now face a major task to pick themselves up again after today’s mauling. At least they don’t have to play next weekend but they then entertain Cork the weekend after that in the opening round of the group stage. Whoever wins that one will be in a great position to advance, regardless of how they subsequently fare against ourselves and Kerry.
We entertain Mickey Harte’s charges in Round 2. That match, at Hastings Insurance MacHale Park, will be played either on Saturday or Sunday of the June Bank Holiday weekend and it’ll be our first Championship meeting with them since the All-Ireland final of 1950.