Louth will rely on their ‘Ulster factor’ when they confront Dublin in the fourth round of the All Ireland football qualifiers at Croke Park on Sunday.
A fortnight after that now infamous Leinster final confrontation with Meath, the ‘Wee County’ face a massive test of character and skill against Pat Gilroy’s side that ended Armagh’s involvement in the qualifiers last Saturday.
And while manager Peter Fitzpatrick will ultimately call the shots, coach Martin McQuillan and his assistant Peter McDonnell, both from Armagh, along with advisor Brian McEniff (Donegal) will all have a big input into the team’s preparation and strategy.
The frustration, anger and disillusionment that enveloped Louth after the insipid manner in which the GAA responded to their justifiable plea for a rematch with Meath after referee Martin Sludden’s ignominious howler have now given way to determination, passion and pride as Fitzpatrick fires up his troops for battle again.
Bernard Brogan’s scoring haul against Armagh have made him public enemy No 1 in Louth — apart from Martin Sludden, that is — while the Dubs’ overall movement and tracking back that highlighted their win over Paddy O’Rourke’s side will surely be in evidence again this weekend.
Louth captain Paddy Keenan, whose splendid performances in July earned him a Vodafone honour, insists that the team has regained their focus.
“We were gutted when Meath did not offer us a replay but we are now getting a great chance to show what we really can do,” he said.
“It would be great for us to reach the All Ireland quarter-finals but there will be no sentiment out there on the pitch on Saturday. Dublin will be under pressure to produce the goods so we will have to dig very deep if we are to win,” states Keenan.
Dublin manager Gilroy certainly has interesting selection options after the impressive manner win which substitutes Eamonn Fennell, Paul Flynn and Kevin McManamon scored against Armagh but he may prefer to keep them on the bench again.