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Pete McGrath on taking Louth job: 'I have maybe made better decisions in my life'

He admitted it’s been “a pretty calamitous season” for the Wee County after they suffered a “complete implosion” against Carlow.

Image: Lorraine O'Sullivan/INPHO

A DESPONDENT PETE McGrath stopped just short of saying he regretted taking on the Louth job in the wake of their 11-point defeat to Carlow on Sunday.

In his first year in charge, McGrath watched his team lose all seven of their Division 2 games this year before they were dumped out of the Leinster SFC by a buoyant Carlow outfit in Portlaoise.

“When you have lost a match like that, you feel not only disappointed but devastated,” McGrath said after the game.

“You don’t regret it (taking the job), but you say, ‘I have maybe made better decisions in my life.’

“I wasn’t sure what Louth football was like. I found out early on with the unavailability of players and a couple of injuries that it was going to be a struggle but I felt the players were up to it and management was up to it.”

Ryan Burns is sent off Ryan Burns was sent-off for Louth on Sunday Source: Lorraine O'Sullivan/INPHO

Jim McEneaney and John Bingham are currently out with long-term injuries, while Paraic Smith and James Califf didn’t commit to the panel at the beginning of the year.

Since the league began, Conall McKeever, Patrick Reilly, Padraig Rath and James Stewart have departed the squad, forcing McGrath to start four debutants against Carlow last weekend.

McGrath, who managed Down to two All-Ireland titles during the early 1990s, quit as Fermanagh manager last year due to player unrest just a week after he had committed to another year in charge.

It remains to be seen how the Louth players will react to McGrath’s strong post-match comments, where he highlighted a lack of leadership and spirit in the squad.

“The longer than second-half went on, the more and more disappointing and harder to look at it became. It was just a really, really sub-standard, poor second-half performance. At this level of football for a team to play as badly as we did in the second-half…

“That shows a lack of energy and a lack of hunger. So all these things escalated as the second-half went on and it was just, I think, a very, very disappointing and poor day for Louth football.

Gerard McSorley dejected after the game Source: Lorraine O'Sullivan/INPHO

“The second-half was just a complete implosion. Physically and in terms of momentum, spirit, purpose and energy in that second-half, particularly after the first seven or eight minutes when we missed a couple of chances, Carlow were streets ahead of us. And they shouldn’t be, but they were.

“We all have to take a very serious look at where the squad is and what the potential is and where we’re going to go from here. It’s very gloomy, very discouraging and it’s very hard to see a way out of it.

“We had some good performances in the league, in the matches that we lost there were parts where we played very well in. But still, when you go seven straight defeats in the league you know there is going to be collateral damage going into the championship, psychologically, and maybe that surfaced out there today.

He continued: “I think in that second-half, as the game was slipping and slipping, we just didn’t seem to have the capacity to steady the ship to stabilise the thing, to get our hands on the ball, get a score or two and get ourselves back in it.

“That does require leadership, it requires people on the field who can ask, ‘What’s important now and what needs to be done?’ And put their shoulder to the wheel to do it.

“It didn’t come today and you can say that on many occasions during the league that it didn’t come either. We’ll have to ask that question, but the evidence is out there, maybe it is a deficit in leadership.”

Darragh Foley gets the ball away under pressure Source: Lorraine O'Sullivan/INPHO

Louth head for round 1 of the qualifiers on the weekend of 9/10 June, where there will be some big teams awaiting them in the draw.

“We’ll go on, we’ll see what the rest of the season holds. We’ll get the players together Friday night and we’ll try and sift through the carnage and the debris and man up for whatever lies ahead in the qualifiers.

“The qualifiers can be a form of medication if you get a reasonable draw. You could be drawn against Mayo or the losers of Monaghan and Tyrone and that wouldn’t be pretty.

“What the rest of the season holds I don’t know but to date you have to say it has been a pretty calamitous season.”

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