Louth boss Mickey Harte rues free decision as Cork edge out Wee county

Louth manager Mickey Harte, left, feels his side were unlucky to lose on Saturday
Louth manager Mickey Harte, left, feels his side were unlucky to lose on Saturday Louth manager Mickey Harte, left, feels his side were unlucky to lose on Saturday

All-Ireland SFC Group 1, round one

Louth 1-17 Cork 1-19

A FRANTIC finale added to the classic as Cork overcame the gutsy Louth challenge on Saturday to pick up two valuable points in the All-Ireland series at Páirc Tailteann, Navan.

Cork were dominant for long stretches but had to withstand a tremendous Louth fightback when Sam Mulroy swung around a seven point turnaround to give Louth the lead in the 57th minute.

Composure and cool heads saw Cork advance but the entertaining affair would come down to the final play. Rebels midfielder Ian Maguire once again got his hands on the ball around the middle and with one point in the game, the frantic hunt for the breaking ball was electric.

Cork sub John Rourke dived on it and fellow replacement finished the move with aplomb that allowed Cork to breathe a huge sigh of relief at the final whistle.

What made it more impressive was the fact they had to comeback from a first half goal that saw Louth trail 1-8 to 0-7 at the break.

Louth manager Mickey Harte felt the free against his goalkeeper James Califf in the build-up to Brian O’Driscoll’s vital goal was highly questionable.

“When we went behind to that goal, which I felt was probably a harsh enough decision I don’t know what he was blown for,” Harte said.

“I don’t think he had the ball in his hands for over four seconds or he didn’t take four steps with the ball in his hand but anyway, the referee gave it so we have to go with that.

“I thought it was harsh because it was a critical score in the game and gave them a lot of momentum and gave us a bit of a mountain to climb.”

Cork top’s scorer on the day, Brian Hurley, extended that maligned lead out to six before Louth roared back with a Liam Jackson goal off the bench but after expending so much energy to get back into contention Harte’s side could not push on.

“A big comeback takes a lot of effort and then when you are up against a team of the standard of Cork because let’s face it, Cork are still a very good team,” Harte said. 

Louth: J Califf; D Campbell, P Lynch (0-1), D McKenny; L Grey (0-1), N Sharkey, A Williams; T Durnin (0-1), C Early (0-1); C McKeever, C Downey(0-2), B Duffy; P Mathews, S Mulroy (0-8, 0-4 frees), C Lennon (0-1).

Subs: D McConnnon for Mathews (h-t), D McKeown (0-1) for Duffy (h-t), L Jackson (1-0) for Campbell (39), C Grimes (0-1) for Lennon (44), C McCaul for McConnon (65)

Cork: M Aodh Martin; M Shanley, D O’Mahony, T Walsh; L Fahy, S Meehan, M Taylor; C O’Callaghan (0-2), I Maguire (0-2);

B O’Driscoll (1-1), R Deane, K O’Hanlon (0-1);

S Powter (0-1), B Hurley (0-8,6frees), C Óg Jones (0-1).

Subs: K O’Donovan for Meehan (21), S Sherlock (0-1) for Powter (48) C Kiely for Walsh (49), E McSweeney for O’Hanlon (55), C Corbett (0-1) for Jones (64), J O’Rourke (0-1) for Hurley (73).

Referee: Martin McNally (Monaghan)