KILKENNY’S FOOTBALLERS LIVED through a nightmare in Ballyragget last night as Louth racked up a 50-point win in the Leinster U21 Football Championship.
Fourteen of the Wee County’s side got their name on the scoresheet as Louth raced into a 1-21 to 0-00 lead at half-time, and eventually won by a massive 6-34 to 0-02, the Irish Examiner reports.
Kilkenny’s cause wasn’t helped when a number of a number of players withdrew in the hours leading up to the game, leaving the Cats with a bare minimum of 15 players and no substitutes.
But speaking to TheScore.ie this morning, Tom Duggan, vice chairman of the Kilkenny football board, said that he couldn’t find fault with the players who did pull on the jersey last night.
“We had so many players listed to travel to play the game and they were caught up with exams, they were caught up with colleges, they were caught up with hurling, this type of thing.
“We weren’t aware of it at all. I contacted a couple of players to see if they were available and when I contacted them, they weren’t available. Work and exams come before a lot of things in this day and age.
We had 15. We had a team, and that team played to the best of their ability. I wouldn’t have one negative word to say about that team or the management of that team.
Louth manager Colin Kelly spoke with the Kilkenny players in their dressing room afterwards and encouraged them to “stick at it”, but Duggan was quick to wonder why Kelly’s players were so intent on piling on the pain.
“If we were playing them in hurling, we wouldn’t go to town on Louth as they did on us. Up to the 60th minute, they were still going for goals. Only for the effectiveness of our goalkeeper, we could’ve been down by an awful lot more.”
On a morning when the scoreline screamed disaster, Duggan was able to focus on the few positives from last night’s game.
“It’s not a big deal, everybody knows Kilkenny football. And if they don’t know Kilkenny football, they don’t know anything about sport.
When you look at the 15 guys who were there last night after the match, ok they were disheartened alright but they’ll be back to play football again.
You get a lot of negative press about this kind of thing, but we’re there, we compete, and we compete to our ability.
“It’s the same in the National Football League. They go out there and when they come off the pitch and back onto the bus, [they're asking] when are we playing next.”