Louth boss insists that promotion is still in their own hands
By Caoimhín Reilly
Colin Kelly insists that Louth’s promotion destiny is still in their own hands despite Armagh romping to a 13-point win at the Gaelic Grounds yesterday.
2-12 from the visitor’s starting forward line was key as Louth’s defence found themselves uncharacteristically generous in conceding three goals. However, Kelly feels doesn’t feel that there is the gulf in class that the scoreline suggests.
“We were second best in every position. They looked fitter, they looked stronger but today was one poor performance and we’ll regroup from that,” the Louth manager said post-match.
“For 70 minutes, they were better. Coming into today’s match we had eight points and they had five so it’s hard to know.
“I think that’s an injustice to the opposition that we have played in this Division (to say that Armagh were a rise in standard). Sligo were beaten today and they took points off Armagh so they were just a step up today but they’re in Division Three the same as us so I wouldn’t be jumping up and down about them winning Ulster titles.
“We’re still in a good position and we’re in a better position than Laois and they were favourites to win it. It’s a tough division and it’s very much in our own hands.
“There’s three teams now that can get promoted, Louth, Armagh and Tipperary, and I would have taken that at the start of the year.
“With two games to go it’s still very much in our own hands. It’s been a very successful National League for us and today was one of our worst performances.
“The lads know that and I know that. We don’t have to be told how bad we were. But we’ll go back Tuesday night and look forward to next Sunday.”
Armagh starting the game at a blistering pace and had two goals scored after 16 minutes with Kelly admitting that his defence were unable to cope, especially when Anthony Williams saw red after only nine minutes.
“It was hard to get a handle on them.
“I think five of them came through for one of the goals and we tried to not leave ourselves exposed like that but it’s five games in and up until today we have only conceded one goal so in fairness to the lads they have done their jobs.
“We were chasing the game and we spoke at half-time that maybe we didn’t get the rewards that we deserved with some silly choices in front of goal but overall from the situation that we were in against the breeze to get ourselves back to within five we felt at that stage we were well in it.
“But we needed to not allow Armagh to get a good start (to the second-half) and chip away at their lead and get it back to a one score game but Armagh were better and they played some outstanding stuff.
“It was a bit topsy turvy with the sending off and Anthony got sent off so it wasn’t ideal.”
Kelly didn’t defend his Dreadnots’ club colleague, in getting sent off, but he did question referee Ciaran Brannigan.
“No I don’t think (it was harsh) whatsoever, I spoke to him at half-time.
“He’s certainly been one of our better performers, definitely since I’ve been involved, and he’s a top-class player but the one thing we spoke about today was sending offs and the need to not get involved.
“We can’t talk about referees but we have experienced this man before in the same fixture two years ago and all the Louth people know what happened that night so I didn’t have too much faith in our 15 seeing out the 70 minutes.
“But once you put yourself in that position you run the risk of getting somebody sent off.”
Andy McDonnell and Jim McEneaney still weren’t ready for action on Sunday through injury while centre-back Liam Dullaghan was also missing but the Louth boss refused to offer excuses.
“We lost Liam Dullaghan before the match today, his child was taken ill overnight so hopefully all is well there with Liam and that’s more important than what went on out there for 70 minutes.
“So arguably we lost a central forward, a midfielder and a centre-back. But that is what a squad is for and we have the players to cover.
“Kevin Carr has come in for Liam Dullaghan and he was exceptional in the first three games we had in the league so where we worried about Kevin Carr coming in, absolutely not.
“When you’re playing at this level you’re going to have injuries and players injured so it’s just about getting on with the job.
“It’s onwards and upwards and it’s still in our own hands. From where we have come and what people expected off us at the start of the year speaking about relegation there is no one prouder.”