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Thursday 18 September 2014

Where to from here?

Published 01/04/2014 | 05:24

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NOT for the first time this year Carlow shipped 30 points in the National Football League and now find themselves rooted to the bottom of Division 4 after conceding an astonishing 144 points in just six games.

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In fact, the game against London was the only game where Carlow conceded less than 20 points this year.

The scores against goes as follows, 2-24 to Tipperary, 1-17 to Leitrim, 2-17 to Antrim, 1-25 to Wicklow, 2-7 to London and 3-21 to Clare, an average of conceding just over 20 scores per game. On the flip side of that Carlow's scores for looks like, 1-8, 1-8, 3-15, 1-11, 0-13, 2-10. That's an average of just over nine scores a game.

The results so far this year are easily the worst the county has seen for a few years and yet, strangely, if the footballers beat Waterford in the last round, they will leap frog their opponents and finish third from bottom depending on the London result also, and finish higher than they did last year.

At this point their is no sense to flogging a dead horse but, as Carlow GAA lovers, as a county as a whole, we must fear what lies ahead with Meath due soon in Dr. Cullen Park in the Leinster Championship.

Four more players left the panel during the week with Gary Dempsey, Mark Curry, Shane McGrath, and Michael Meaney all calling it a day before the clash with Clare.

The players' reasons may be many or few but with such a mass exodus this year, including Brendan Murphy, there is something wrong somewhere or else there are a lot of problems everywhere.

Is it fair to point the blame in one direction, probably not, but such is the nature of poor performance that reasons are sought. Do you blame management? The players? The count board? The clubs? All of the above?

At this stage it's too hard to know, each will point the finger at the other and the media will probably be fired at too for not helping the situation. From beating Louth and drawing with Meath in consecutive years to getting wiped off the field in almost every game is a massive drop in standard in just three years and there is no lower level. At the moment if there was a Division 5, Carlow would be in it.

It hurts the heart and the fingertips of a Carlow scribe to write such a horrible thing but facts must be faced and problems need to be solved.

What about a mass conference, with the county players, the clubs, the management and the County Board? A monster meeting where cards are laid on the table, no need for pointing fingers and banging tables, everyone will agree we are in a dire situation, but let everyone air their grievances without argument and perhaps there is a solution, who knows, but we have to do something.

The game in Clare was a funny one with Carlow actually making a game of it in the first half despite losing Shane Mernagh to a black card in the first three minutes, Benny Kavanagh replaced him as Clare went into an early lead.

With eight minutes only on the clock Clare lead 1-2 to no score and fear of an early capitulation ensued, but credit to the Carlow players, they don't want to be in the situation they are in and they fought back to save some face with a couple of Paul Broderick points and then a Seamus Kinsella goal which really set the game up to be a close battle.

Clare though edged ahead by four points though with David Tubridy on song for the home side but with 10 minutes to go until the break Seamus Kinsella was dragged to the ground inside the large rectangle and a penalty was awarded which the same man buried to the net.

Clare would have the final say of the half and end it three points to the good but the game was anybody's at this stage and with Clare still in with a chance of promotion the second half would tell a story.

Sadly, the story from a Carlow perspective is one of the most dire with complete and utter surrender the only tag to offer the affair. Barry-John Molloy, Seamus Kinsella and Paul Broderick will probably be the only ones who came home on the team bus with any credibility but that will be little comfort after as a team, Carlow conceded 2-11 in the second half and only managed six points of their own.

Willie Minchin and Ciaran Moran did get their names on the scoresheet but at no stage in the second half did Carlow look like they were even going to muster a challenge. Granted it was a Carlow team that had never played with each other before but at this level that just cannot be an excuse.

The final nail in the Carlow coffin was the sending off of Daniel St. Ledger on a second yellow card but the game had long since been over despite Broderick and Kinsella adding frees.

Look at it this way though, the only way is up! Right?

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