GAA Football

Louth bag Division Three title and first League win for Harte

Louth players celebrate after their Allianz Football League Division Three final win over Limerick at Croke Park Picture: Philip Walsh.

Allianz Football League Division Three final: Louth Limerick

Louth earned manager Mickey Harte his first National League title in 19 years - and just the second of his career - at Croke Park on Saturday evening with a convincing victory over Limerick.

Liam Jackson's tremendous goal on 53 minutes proved to be the turning point in a game which the Munster men had enjoyed the better of until that juncture.

The half-forward finished a flowing move, latching on to Ciarán Byrne's pass and calmly slotting past Donal O'Sullivan for the match's crucial score. Not only did the major put Louth in front - 1-9 to 0-10 - for the first time since midway through the opening period, but it was the tonic they required to take a firm grip over proceedings.

When the full-time whistle was sounded, Harte and assistant Gavin Devlin embraced warmly under the gaze of the Hogan Stand. Louth's sixth win in a row had much to do with their approach.

The Wee men sat back and encouraged Limerick on, knowing the Treaty county hadn't the guile to work their way through and would instead rely on their greater physical attributes to perforate gaps.

They managed this to a degree in the first half with Adrian Enright, James Naughton and Cian Sheehan ever so influential as Josh Ryan, Hugh Bourke and Peter Nash hit points.

Though Louth never trailed by more than two at any stage despite offering relatively little going forward over the course of the opening period and were just an Enright register in arrears at the interval, 0-7 to 0-6. Sam Mulroy, typically unerring from placed kicks, converted four of the Reds' half-dozen.

And when they resumed with a renewed optimism, tackling ferociously and forcing Limerick into aimless meanders, it always seemed likely that their greater conditioning would count on the counter-attack.

As it proved, a handling error by Billy Lee's men gave Louth the perfect opening and they went the length of the pitch in two passes - Daniel Corcoran to Byrne and on to Jackson. Man of the match Tommy Durnin followed the goal up with a sublime point and Byrne, who an elusive threat, brought his personal tally to 0-4 as the outcome swiftly became inevitable.

Limerick's only responses came via substitute Robbie Bourke frees as they went scoreless from play after the 49th minute.

A plan hatched in Tyrone, rolled out in Darver and applied perfectly at HQ ensured Louth of a first League crown since 2016 - and their manager's first final success at the venue since the 2008 All-Ireland decider.

Louth: J Califf; D McKenny, B Duffy, D Corcoran; C McKeever, N Sharkey (0-1), L Grey; T Durnin (0-1), J Clutterbuck (0-1); L Jackson (1-0), S Mulroy (0-6, 3f, 2 45s), C Byrne (0-4); C Lennon, C Downey, D Nally (0-1).

Subs: T Jackson for Lennon (25), E Callaghan for Grey (27), C Grimes for Nally (59), C Early for Clutterbuck (66).

Black card: C McKeever (70)

Limerick: D O’Sullivan; S O’Dea, B Fanning, M Donovan (0-1); C Sheehan, I Corbett, P Maher; D Treacy, C Fahy; A Enright (0-2), J Naughton, K Ryan; P Nash (0-2), J Ryan (0-3, 1f), H Bourke (0-2).

Subs: R Childs for Fahy (17), R Bourke (0-2f) for Nash (49), P De Brún for K Ryan (51), Liston for J Ryan (59), T McCarthy for Treacy (66).

Yellow card: P De Brún (59)

Black card: P Maher (70)

Referee: B Griffin (Kerry).

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