Louth secured promotion to Division 3 at the first time of asking with a comprehensive eight-point Allianz League semi-final victory over Carlow on their home ground, Netwatch Cullen Park.
In truth, Louth were in control throughout and never looked in trouble of missing out on that coveted promotion once impressive full-forward Conor Grimes finished to net at the end of the first half.
With a big lead established, Louth's confidence surged and the directness of Mickey Harte’s side and their forward play was eye-catching. The sheer rate of scoring on the day highlighted that.
The opening score was as patient a point as you would see in the crunch clash under the baking Saturday sun. Carlow moved laterally through the phases with corner man Colm Hulton timing his run on the loop to perfection to fire over in the host's first attack.
Recalled Hulton was excellent in this period landing three scores in the opening quarter.
Louth, on the other hand, took the patient route into the contest overall, sizing up their opponents before some incisive interplay opened Carlow up on numerous occasions. Grimes and Sam Mulroy both found their range, with the terrific Ciaran Downey also popping up with his first point of the day.
Choosing to build from the back, Harte’s side looked supremely organised. Despite spurning two goal chances from Ardee pair Liam Jackson and Ciarán Keenan, the visitors opened up a 0-05 to 0-03 lead before the first water break.
On the edge of the square, Grimes was instrumental to Harte’s attacking game-plan all afternoon. His link play with talisman Mulroy was outstanding and his goal and playmaking was the difference in the game, especially during the pivotal second quarter.
Grimes was able to play the pure target man at times, setting up marauding midfielder Ciaran Byrne for all three of his first-half points. Just before those assists, Byrne would set Grimes up for his goal in the 31st minute with the player showing poacher-like instincts to palm in at the back post.
Paul Broderick then chipped in with three scores for a struggling Carlow, the experienced forward keeping Niall Carew’s side in the game just before the break as they trailed 1-12 to 0-07 at the turn. Carlow with it all to do.
The revival initially looked to be on when Broderick landed two quick scores upon the resumption.
Then Ciaran Keenan was again denied for a goal and Josh Moore countered to land a score at the other end. That provided the 100 vocal Carlow supporters present with something to shout about but that was a good as it got for the Barrowsiders.
The second-half water break broke Carlow’s momentum and Mulroy killed the game off entirely with five points in the final quarter including four whopping long-range frees.
Chris Blake did come off the bench with two points before Jamie Clarke raised the green flag for Carlow with a penalty, but the ruthless nature of the win will no doubt delight Harte. His new Louth pupils are showing a keen eagerness to learn.
Carlow: Ciaran Cunningham; Seánie Bambrick, Shane Redmond, Liam Roberts; Jordan Morrissey, John Murphy, Josh Moore (0-01); Eoghan Ruth, Darragh Foley; Sean Gannon, Sean Dunphy, Jamie Clarke (1-02, 1-00 pen); Conor Crowley, Paul Broderick (0-07, 0-02f, 0-02’45’), Colm Hulton (0-03).
Subs: Chris Blake (0-02) for Dunphy (43), Cormac Mullens for Crowley (56), Jordan Lowry for Bambrick (60), Jason Kane for Ruth (65).
Louth: Craig Lynch; Dan Corcoran, Dermot Campbell, Donal McKenny; Emmet Carolan, Niall Sharkey, Eoghan Callaghan (0-01); Bevan Duffy (0-01), Ciaran Byrne (0-03); Liam Jackson (0-02), Sam Mulroy (0-07 0-05f, 0-01 '45’), Ciaran Downey (0-03); Ciaran Keenan (0-03), Conor Grimes (1-02), Ryan Burns.
Subs: Leonard Grey for Corcoran (ht), Declan Byrne (0-01) for Burns (40), Daire Nally for Campbell (47), Conall McKeever for Duffy (65), John Clutterbuck for Carolan (74).
Referee: Barry Tiernan (Dublin).