Pat's injuries bodes well for St Enda's
Wee chance of an upset could be killed by Louth champs' casualty list
St Patrick's of Louth are under "no illusions" as they prepare to host Ballyboden St Enda's next Sunday - and not just because they will be playing the role of David against the capital's latest club Goliath.
The Lordship outfit have suffered an injury crisis since retaining their county crown a month ago, leaving them potentially without a handful of key performers against the hotly fancied Dublin champions in Drogheda.
Definitely out of the AIB Leinster club SFC quarter-final is retired Louth ace Ray Finnegan, who won't play again this season following facial surgery.
"Ray suffered a break in three places, under an eye socket, in the semi-final replay of the league two weeks ago. So that rules him out for the rest of the season," explained St Pat's selector Colin Goss, a former Louth teammate of Finnegan's.
Their injury tribulations don't end there, as a hectic league schedule following last month's county final win over Seán O'Mahony's has left at least three other players battling against time to be fit for the Boden clash.
Over successive weekends they faced O'Mahony's in a league semi-final stalemate that went to extra-time, then O'Mahony's again in the replay, and finally Mattock Rangers in the final. They lost the latter, denying Pat's back-to-back league and championship doubles, but the cost of defeat didn't end there.
Freetaker Karl White suffered a "slight" hamstring tear against Mattock nine days ago and has been undergoing rehab since.
Darragh Lafferty, not long back from a cruciate injury, jarred his knee in the league semi-final replay. His brother Eoghan had been managing an ankle ligament injury for several weeks before suffering further damage against Mattock.
Goss accepts it could be the morning of the game before they know if any or all can feature. At least goalkeeper Seán Connor, currently serving a league suspension that is under appeal, is eligible while a huge onus - as ever - rests on the shoulders of Paddy Keenan.
St Pat's have won all seven of their Louth SFC titles since 2003, including four of the last five, but their record in Leinster has been extremely patchy with just two victories negated by six defeats.
"Some years we haven't given a good account of ourselves at all," admitted Goss, who retired from playing at the start of the year, becoming a selector under Jim Holland.
"Other years we played … I don't think there's any bad sides in Leinster, but we seemed to come up against the pick of them most of the time.
"The Dublin teams are definitely of a high standard and go on to win, generally, so we're under no illusions."
The consensus had been that Pat's would be tackling St Vincent's, but Goss wasn't overly surprised by Ballyboden's victory, suggesting that they proved last Sunday "just how good a side they are."