Mickey Harte came to a passionate defence of Louth’s conduct during the O’Byrne Cup following Saturday’s decider defeat by Longford at Pearse Park.
he Reds were vilified by Offaly manager Liam Kearns and chairman Michael Duignan for their decision to hand Wexford a walkover in round three of the group phase, having already sealed their passage into the knockout stage.
Offaly, duly, pulled out of the counties’ semi-final duel, bringing the total number of games not played in the competition to four.
Louth chairman Peter Fitzpatrick defended the Wee men’s actions at last week’s County Board meeting and Harte doubled down when speaking at the weekend.
“We didn’t withdraw from the Wexford game and that’s the problem, you see,” said Harte.
“There’s a narrative out there which has been put into the public domain by somebody who isn’t from Louth, involved with Louth or know anything about them.
“The fact of the matter is that Louth County Board, under our instructions, said that we could not make it to Wexford on a Wednesday night – the distance that it is and the time of night that it was at.
“Leinster Council were told that before a ball was kicked and they gave us an alternative which was January 2. Had we taken January 2, there’d have been another game on January 4 and 6 as well. We were going to have three games in six days after playing no football at all.
“We said that that did not suit us and wouldn’t work. We made it totally clear before a ball was kicked that that was our position so for people to suggest that we had pulled out of the competition, or abandoned the competition, or were trying to do it harm, they’re people who don’t know what they’re talking about and they’ve been quite vociferous in what they were saying.
“I’ve not heard anybody speaking the full truth yet – that we did everything above board, that Leinster Council were properly informed of everything we were doing and we didn’t refuse to go to Wexford on a Wednesday night.
“We had declared long in advance, before we kicked a ball, that we weren’t going and I think people need to get that narrative back straight and right, that we didn’t do anything out of order, we did everything by the book, and if Leinster Council wanted to sanction us for our decision, we would have taken that.
“But they didn’t and we went on to play the two games, and because we ended up in a semi-final… it’s a bit rich for somebody to be giving out about us not going to the bottom end of Wexford on a Wednesday night when they feel hard done by by having to go from the midlands to Parnell Park. Are they making the argument for us?
“Again, it was as if they were overburdened themselves. They were in a group of three and only had to play two games – and we had to play two games as well. I don’t know where they got the room to gripe. They should tend to their own business and leave everybody else to tend to theirs as well.”
Harte accepted that Louth were being deemed as the ‘bad guys’ in the fallout considering Kildare, Carlow and Offaly also conceded matches in the past month as well.
“When you send something into the public domain and nobody delves into challenge if this is the accurate truth then it becomes the truth,” added the Tyrone-native.
“All I want to do is to let people know exactly what happened and why we did what we did in the best interest of our players.
“Could you imagine a three-and-a-half hour journey at least, fitting in eating, playing a match at eight o’clock and being back into the county at half one or two in the morning? It didn’t make sense.
“The alternative to play three games in six days wasn’t a sensible move either.”