- A very hoarse Louth manager Peter Fitzpatrick says hard work was the key to his side's win over Kildare
- Louth's Brian White, man-of-the-match, says they are delighted with the win and hope they can reach the Leinster final
- Louth goalscorer Ray Finnegan says he is very happy that his team did not freeze on this occasion
Louth scored a shock Leinster Senior Football Championship quarter-final win over Kildare in a thriller at Páirc Tailteann in Navan.
It was the first time since 1995 that the Wee County had overcome the Lilywhites in championship football, and with Westmeath or Wicklow awaiting in the semi-final, they must fancy their chances of qualifying for a first provincial decider since 1960.
This was a heroic team effort by Peter Fitzpatrick’s side, and as Kildare were sent crashing into the All-Ireland Qualifiers, there was no questioning the merits of Louth’s six points success.
Midfielder Brian White led by example with a terrific display, but he was surrounded by players who were prepared to lay their bodies on the line for the cause.
Louth were high in confidence as they ran fearlessly at the Kildare defence in the opening stages, opening up a 0-5 to 0-1 lead inside the opening 10 minutes with scores from Brian White (2), JP Rooney (2) and Shane Lennon.
But Kildare were level by the 13th minute. Adrian Sweeney, providing extra cover for his defence, gifted possession to James Kavanagh, who sent Padraig O’Neill in for a clinical finish to the bottom corner of the net.
The Wee County’s defence appeared to be creaking, and the Lilywhites took the lead for the first time through Ronan Sweeney.
But with Colm Judge buzzing around and popping up on both wings, there were uneasy times for the Kildare rearguard as well. Judge won two frees which White converted, and popped one over himself as Peter Fitzpatrick’s men went back in front.
Andy McDonnell’s creativity was another key to Louth’s success in breaking down the Lily defence, setting up Lennon for a superb score that made it 0-9 to 1-3 in the 23rd minute.
Paddy Keenan and Brian White gave Louth a decided edge over Daryl Flynn and David Whyte at midfield, and the Louth attack continued to prosper, with Judge’s second free and a solo effort from McDonnell making it seven points on the spin.
Dermot Earley, unable to start due to injury concerns, was sprung from the bench on 28 minutes, and a Doyle free promptly ended a 17 minute barren spell.
Alan Smith and Doyle hit the target again to narrow the gap to five, with Louth taking a 0-14 to 1-6 lead into the interval.
No sooner had Kildare trimmed the deficit back to two, than their three quick-fire points were cancelled out in one breathtaking instant, when wing back Ray Finnegan picked up Brennan’s quick free to fire home a brilliant Louth goal on 39 minutes.
They went seven clear, but a string of Doyle scores and a second for Kavanagh brought the Lilywhites back to within two as the game entered its final quarter.
A thrilling encounter inevitably had a few more twists, and Louth restored their five points advantage through Adrian Reid, Lennon and Judge, before a superb solo effort from Andy McDonnell eased tem six clear at 1-21 to 1-15 with 10 minutes to play.
White’s boundless energy kept Louth on the offensive, heroic efforts as well from Dessie Finnegan and Eamon McAuly making massive contributions to this massive victory for the Wee men.
Louth: N Gallagher, E McAuly, D Finnegan, R Greene, R Finnegan (1-0), M Fanning, J O’Brien, P Keenan, B White (0-6, 5f), A McDonnell (0-3), M Brennan (0-1), A Reid (0-1), C Judge (0-4, 4f), S Lennon (0-4), JP Rooney (0-3).
Subs: D Byrne for McAuly, A Hoey for Reid, D Clarke for Rooney, S Fitzpatrick for Finnegan.
Kildare: S McCormack, H McGrillen, G White, E Bolton, M O’Flaherty, B Flanagan, K Cribbin, D Flynn (0-1), D Whyte (0-1), J Kavanagh (0-2), J Doyle (0-9, 7f), R Sweeney (0-1), A Smith (0-1), P O’Neill (1-1), E Callaghan.
Subs: A MacLochlainn for Bolton, D Earley for O’Neill, T O’Connor for Callaghan, D Hendy for Cribbin, Callaghan for Sweeney
Referee: M Duffy (Sligo)