FEW predicted Louth to end Dublin’s 12-year reign as Leinster champions but a 21-point hiding certainly wasn’t on the cards either.
It leaves manager Mickey Harte with a major task of getting his players right for the opening All-Ireland Group 1 game against Cork the weekend after next.
Louth have opted to use Pairc Tailteann in Navan for their ‘home’ game because the capacity of about 2,600 at St Mary’s in Ardee doesn’t meet the minimum requirement of 3,500 or 80% of the expected crowd as laid down in the regulations.
Cork hurlers are due to play Limerick in the last game in the round-robin series in Munster on Sunday week, so presumably the footballers will be playing the day before.
Louth, who were reckoned to have had around 15,000 of the near 40,000 crowd at Croke Park on Sunday, are no strangers to the Meath venue having recorded victories over the Royal County in Division 2 and Westmeath in the Leinster quarter-final this season.
Harte acknowledged the ramifications of the 5-21 to 0-15 defeat. “Every other team in the group will be saying we’re the winnable game and that’s understandable,” he said.
“We played Cork in the league, of course, but they were missing a few players that day and we got a result.
“Any game you go out to play from here on is not going to be easy because you’re at the tough end of the season now. It’s experience and these players were learn from the experience,” Harte commented.
The one-sided nature of the Leinster final, coupled with those in Munster and Connacht, has led to the inevitable call for change.
All four provincial champions retained their titles, Dublin by 21 points and Kerry and Galway by 14 points each though Derry needed penalties to hang on to their Ulster title against Armagh.
Dublin manager Dessie Farrell made a succinct point afterwards. “I get it. It’s quite political. Provincial councils have been established a long time and feel that they have a role and a responsibility and that their contribution is important to the GAA,” he said.
“While that is definitely the case, it’s probably time to have a proper review of the competition and see who does this benefit, these big wins, the discrepancies between teams? Is there a better mixture?”
Meanwhile, Cork’s Munster MFC semi-final against Tipperary will be played in Thurles on Thursday at 7pm with Kerry also travelling to play Limerick in Newcastlewest at 6.45.