Mickey Harte's Louth paired with Offaly in Leinster Senior Championship opener
LEINSTER counties need to stop hoping for the GAA to do something about Dublin's dominance and concentrate on closing the gap, said Louth's Sam Mulroy after yesterday's provincial draw.
Louth were paired with Offaly in the first round, while Dublin await the winners of Wicklow versus Wexford in the quarter-final. Wee County forward Mulroy said he was “glad to avoid the Dublins of this world” in reference to the Dubs' total dominance at provincial level over the last decade but made a rallying call for the rest of Leinster when saying: “Over the last few years I don't think anyone has got within 10 points of Dublin in the Leinster Championship but it's up to us to catch them.
“We can't hope and pray that something is done about it, we have to go catch them and that's the exciting thing about it. You have to keep trying to close that gap and I think teams need to stop giving out about it. It is what it is and you have to get on with it and try and close that gap.
“Everyone else besides the Dubs is on a level playing field in Leinster so we have to try and be as competitive as we can – that's the only way to go about it. Kildare (who await the winners of Louth v Offaly) are a really good side and they've been playing in the top two divisions over the last few years so, if we get there, we'll be looking to put in a shift again.
“You're always looking for performances in Championship matches and you're then just hoping that the result looks after itself.”
The other first round games sees Carlow take on Longford with the winners going on to meet Meath at the quarter-final stage which also includes the meeting of Laois and Westmeath. A separate draw will be carried out for the semi-finals after the quarter-final games are played.
Mickey Harte held a series of trial games before Christmas during which he ran his eye over the top players in Louth and from those games he has selected a strong panel to work with.
“Over the last few years we probably struggled to get the best players out on the pitch in a red jersey,” said Mulroy.
“But if you're from Louth and you don't want to play with Mickey Harte then you're in the wrong sport. He had a number of trial matches before Christmas and there were 70 or 80 players trialled so he has a full strength squad and anyone he wants to be there is there. He has picked his squad and I'm sure he is happy with it and it (having Harte there) has given lads a bit more motivation to play for Louth this year.”
Leinster SFC draw
Round 1: Offaly v Louth, Wicklow v Wexford, Carlow v Longford
Quarter-finals: Kildare v winners of Offaly/Louth, Dublin v winners of Wicklow/Wexford, Laois v Westmeath, Meath v winners of Carlow/Longford
ANTRIM have been drawn against Dublin in the quarter-finals of the Leinster Senior Hurling Championship with the winners going on to face Galway.
The Dubs lost to eventual champions Kilkenny at the semi-final stage last year while Antrim return to the competition after winning last year's Joe McDonagh Cup. The winners of the quarter-final clash (which will be played at a neutral venue) will take on last year's beaten Leinster finalists Galway.
Leinster SHC draw
Quarter-finals: Dublin v Antrim, Wexford v Laois
Semi-finals: Kilkenny v winners of Wexford/Laois, winners of Dublin/Antrim v Galway