The Lory Meagher Cup saw Warwickshire face Louth this weekend at Pairc na hEireann
By Martin Mannering
For the second time this year Warwickshire found Louth just too tough a nut to crack despite a valiant effort at Pairc na hEireann on Saturday.
Despite playing catch up for most of the match the hosts displayed huge character and commitment and made the Louth men work all the way to the line.
Warks opened brightly enough and had the first score of the game when Padraig Crehan pointed a free in the second minute but soon found themselves on the back foot as Louth took a grip on proceedings. Shane Callan in a Man of the match performance took control of the midfield area and up front Diarmuid Murphy’s accuracy was to prove pivotal.
Murphy had pointed a free from the left wing and converted a 65 while in between he had combined with Sean Connolly to set up Paddy Lynch before ten minutes had elapsed.
Crehan kept the hosts in touch with another free but the first major breach of the banks came on the quarter hour mark when David Kettle picked out Sean Connolly on the edge of the square and the full forward buried it in the bottom corner.
Callan put his side five ahead but facing their first serious test of character Warwickshire responded in style. Crehan hit a superb point from the right wing after Pauric Treacy picked him out with a long clearance.
Treacy was leading the rally as the home defence got tighter on their opponents and Liam Reale came more into the game providing the inside line with better possession.
Twenty two minutes were on the clock when Treacy lobbed a garryowen into the square and when the ball broke Ogie Long pulled first time to rifle home.
Long again and John Reddan hit points and Crehan put his side in front from a placed ball with seven left on the clock. They were unable to keep up the momentum though and the men from the Wee County reasserted themselves.
They hit the final four points of the half courtesy of Gerard Smith and a monstrous point from Shane Callan from his own half sandwiched between two Murphy frees. Warks introduced Keith Dwyer and Kieran Boxwell on the restart but it was the winners who picked up where they left off.
Murphy added to his free tally and Callan hit another massive point from the right wing as they dominated possession.
Further efforts from Gerard Smith and another from Murphy had six between them before ten minutes had elapsed and as the clouds gathered in overhead Warwickshire chances looked equally ominous. It was a a full thirteen minutes in before they opened their second half tally when Crehan pointed a free.
Keith Dwyer cancelled that out but three minutes later Crehan lined up another free, this time however he cleverly went short to Shane Morrissey who hit a cracker to the roof of the net from twenty metres out.
Liam Reale went close to another goal on twenty minutes but it went narrowly wide. Scores were getting hard to come by as they stood toe to toe and it was an excellent effort from Morrissey that closed the gap to one before Crehan hit his sixth of the game to draw level. They were still tied with four minutes left but then the Warks dam burst. A 65 was blocked out and as the sliothar broke loose sub Andrew Mackin instinctively pulled and rattled the net.
A minute later it was all over, Mackin went for a point from a tight angle which came off the post and fell invitingly to Murphy for the simplest of finishes.
Mackin and Pauric Treacy exchanged points in the dying moments but the deal was done, Warwickshire now face a vital clash with Sligo where a win is imperative if they are to get another shot at Louth in the final.
LOUTH: James Connolly, Conor Matthews, Mike Lyons, Mark Wallace, Niall Cafferkey, Ronan Byrne, Andrew McCrave, Darren O’Habrahan, Shane Callan (0-2), Gerard Smith (0- 2), Nigel Stanley, David Kettle,Diarmuid Murphy (1-6), Sean Connolly (1-0), Paddy Lynch (0-1) SUBS: Liam Dwan (0-2) for Paddy Lynch, Andrew Mackin (1-0) for Sean Connolly, Conor Kerrigan for Niall Cafferkey
WARWICKSHIRE: Mike Cremin, Joe Meagher, Wilie Allen, Michael O’Reagain, Chris Brough, Pauric Treacy (0- 1), Donncha Kennedy, Jac Quinn, Liam Reale, Ogie Long (1-1), John Reddan (0-1), Shane Conlon, Conor Robins, Padraig Crehan (0-6,5f), Shane Morrissey(1-1), SUBS: Kieran Boxwell for Jac Quinn, Keith Dwyer for Shane Conlon