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Louth experiencing a number of hiccups in the build up to their Leinster opener on Sunday

Louth manager Colin Kelly wrote to the county board last week to express concern over aspects of the team’s set-up.

LOUTH’S PREPARATIONS FOR Sunday’s Leinster opener against Wicklow haven’t been as ideal as you might expect.

Colin Kelly Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

The Wee County enjoyed an impressive league campaign where they sealed promotion to Division 2, but the gap in between the league and championship has thrown up a few problems for manager Colin Kelly.

Andy McDonnell is expected to miss at least another month of action after undergoing a knee operation, while defender Derek Maguire opted to spend the summer in America.

While he missed a few games during the middle of the spring, McDonnell was thriving in a new role as an attacking midfielder. Derek Maguire, the Louth Senior Footballer of the Year in 2016, was a certain starter in defence.

“Andy played really well throughout the national league and he was a big plus,” Kelly says.

Josh Keane with Andy McDonnell Louth midfielder Andy McDonnell Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

“We lost him for a couple of mid national league matches but we had him back for the promotion game in the final which was a big, big plus. To lose him again is a huge blow.

“He had a cartilage operation so it’s nothing significantly bad but it’s a four to six or eight week job so hopefully if we can get a few results in the summer he’ll be back with us before the end.

“Derek’s gone to America and will be gone for the whole summer.”

To add to Louth’s woes, LMFM reported that Kelly wrote to the county board last week to express concern over aspects of the team’s set-up.

“The manager has expressed concerns about certain aspects of the organisation surrounding the senior team set-up, and the contents of the letter was discussed at a meeting of the management committee,” the station’s website reported.

Those hiccups indicate Louth haven’t enjoyed the best build-up to the Wicklow game, but their fine league form shouldn’t be ignored.

Kelly, a former corner-forward in his day, likes this team to play an expressive brand of football. It suits his young squad, with Ryan Burns and Jim McEneaney particularly electric in attack so far in 2017.

“They’re very talented lads and they’ve a huge skillset,” continued Kelly. “They’re open to improvement, they’re open to trying things and they work really hard so they’re a clever bunch and they’re easy to deal with.

“There’s more than the two lads (Burns and McEneaney ). Paraic Smith has been exceptional throughout the national league and Eoin O’Connor was exceptional come the end of it so there’s been a real feel good factor about the place and they’re easy lads to work with.

“They’d be my type of player, they’re expressive, good on the ball and quick so they’re good lads to be coaching.”

Derek McGrath’s recent decision to take a career break to focus fully on his management duties brought the time-consuming nature of the job into focus.

Colin Kelly dejected after the game Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

For Kelly, it’s his life at home that suffers most.

“It’s difficult. I’m very lucky, I’ve a good team around me. We’ve a real good coach Colm Nally, a real good strength and conditioner in Aaron Rogers. Aaron Haughey, we’ve a big support network around us. But it is difficult.

“It’s the days in between the training sessions where you’re planning and organising. The big sufferer is probably your family life. That’s the one that suffers most. It’s a big ask, the county manager’s job.

“But when it’s being successful it’s great. It’s when you’re not getting the results and the negativity that saps the energy from you.”

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Kevin O'Brien

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