Lidl National Football League Division 4
Louth vs Antrim
Saturday 24th March at 2:00pm
in Cooley Kickhams GFC
A Louth win will propel them back into contention for a Division 4 semi-final spot when they take on in-form Antrim on Sunday in Cooley (2pm). The Wee-County side have been without a game for over a month and will be itching to get back and finish the campaign with a flourish.
Louth’s latest fixture against Fermanagh which was due to place on Saturday fell victim to the heavy rain for the second consecutive time following their postponed clash with Carlow a fortnight earlier and leaves them facing into a game against Antrim on Sunday without a competitive fixture in five weeks since defeating Leitrim in Cloone on February 24th.
Four games remain for Darren Bishop’s side and they face a confident Antrim who know a win could all but assure them of a place in the last four and put a serious dent in the hopes of Louth.
After an opening day two point loss to Fermanagh, the Saffron county won their next three games which included impressive wins over Limerick, Leitrim and Kilkenny, while last weekend they were forced to dig deep in a St. Patrick’s Day clash to earn a draw with Derry. Antrim rattled in two goals in a powerful opening seven minutes at Ballinascreen but manager Sean O’Kane will be concerned his team failed to add to their tally and lead by just a point at the break.
It was nip and tuck throughout the second half and it took a late point from Cathy Carey to earn Antrim a share of the points. The visitors were without the Taggart sisters Aoife and Caitlin as well as Mairead Cooper with all three expected to be available for the trip to Cooley.
Louth have a good record against Antrim having beaten them in both league and championship last year. The Reds were unlucky to lose in their first game against Limerick but followed that loss with wins over Kilkenny and Limerick. They will hope the lengthy layoff won’t have a negative effect on their performance in a must win game with tough games against Carlow, Fermanagh and Derry to come.
Louth manager Darren Bishop believes his players will be ready for the strong challenge Antrim will present on Sunday. “The five week layoff from matches was out of our control but it’s not ideal. The panel have trained very well and have stayed fresh. Antrim will pose a serious challenge to us on Sunday as will all of the team’s we have yet to play. This league is probably the most competitive of all the Divisions there is at the moment. Sunday’s results could turn the league table on it’s head. We’ve cleared up a few injury concerns that happened earlier on in the season so I’m pleased with that.
I know Antrim have a new management team in place and that will bring a great interest and drive within the county so it will be a tough contest. We feel we are in a good position all be it we haven’t had a competitive game, but the training ground has been good with strong competition for places on the starting fifteen.” concluded the the Louth boss.
Six teams still have hopes of snatching a last four spot with Carlow leading the way with a 100% record after four games who are closely followed by Fermanagh who have three wins under their belts, with Derry and Limerick also in the shake up. A Louth win will keep them firmly in contention and they will hope to make home advantage count in what is certain to be a very keenly contested encounter
Preview by Dermot Woods.