Harte admits Louth must take cautious approach against Cork
All-Ireland SFC Round One: Cork v Louth (Saturday, Páirc Uí Chaoimh, 2pm)
LOUTH are firmly in survival mode moving into today's All-Ireland Qualifier against Cork at Páirc Uí Chaoimh.
Mickey Harte's men made the long trip south yesterday afternoon and are aiming to record just the county's second Championship victory over the Rebels.
Having shipped a 16-point defeat to Kildare in the Leinster quarter-final, the Division Three champions have spent the last month altering their shape and, by Harte's own admission, will approach their looming clash relatively cautiously.
"We want to be competitive and, therefore, we have to do what it takes to be competitive,” Harte said of Louth's pending gameplan.
"It's not necessarily that this is a long-term approach you're taking. We'd hope to get work done in the intervening months between now and next year to bring our players up to a level of maturity and physicality.
“But right now it's about survival, a case of how long can we survive here and that's what we need to be about. There will need to be a degree of conservatism about how we play because if you open up the door to a team like Cork to run freely at us, it would be a big challenge in the space of Páirc Uí Chaoimh.
“And we have to regain a degree of confidence and to do that you have to be really conscious of the team effort. You want to be sure that you're not exposing yourself to a scoreline that you can't get back at.
“We have to learn the lessons of the Kildare game in that when a team gets a march on you, it's a long day and we want to avoid another long day. We want to be in this fight until the end.”
The Wee county have injury concerns with captain Sam Mulroy (groin) and midfielder Tommy Durnin (concussion) among those to have struggled for fitness in recent weeks.
However, the draw saw the Reds avoid each of the four Division One contenders, including All-Ireland champions Tyrone, and it's an outcome Harte was pleased by, feeling the Munster men are at a level closer to where Louth presently stand.
Yet he's well aware of the threat Cork pose despite their 12-point beating by Kerry in last month's provincial encounter.
"It was good to avoid all the Division One teams but an away game is a challenge for us,” he added.
"I think Cork and ourselves will feel that there probably shouldn't have been as big a gap in our (previous) games. A few events within the games could have changed the complexion of the scoreboard, if not the overall outcome.
"But this is a great opportunity to say that we're better than the scoreline suggested against Kildare – that's the first challenge. Next challenge is to see if we can go close enough to cause an upset. The third, and the beauty of it, is that if you do that, you've another game. That's huge for any county and some counties would take it for granted that they'll be there, but we would see it as a great bonus to have that chance.”