Wednesday 26 November 2014

St Ledger demands 'massive culture change' in Carlow

Jackie Cahill

Published 18/06/2014 | 02:30

Daniel St. Ledger, Carlow
Daniel St. Ledger, Carlow

CARLOW star Daniel St Ledger has insisted that the county's Gaelic football core is "just rotten at the minute."

St Ledger (24) delivered his damning assessment after spending two days digesting last Sunday's massive 28-point defeat against Meath in the Leinster senior championship.

And the Kildavin clubman believes that a "massive culture change" is required to arrest an alarming slump in fortunes.

Carlow contested a Leinster SFC semi-final against Wexford in 2011, but the Barrowsiders have plummeted since then and finished bottom of Division 4 in 2014.

And St Ledger, a member of the squad for the past seven years, says that he could not sit in the stands and watch the county team suffer a series of demoralising defeats if he felt that he had something to offer as a player.

St Ledger described a general "apathy" that has crept into Carlow football, with a number of players deciding not to declare for the county team for various reasons.

St Ledger reflected: "I'm not in a position to comment on other guys and I can understand if a fella looks at himself deep down and says that he has genuine reasons and can't make it.

"But I don't know if everyone can genuinely say that their reasons are genuine.

"A lot of lads are in the stand watching that should have been playing. I'm sure it hurt them too but personally, I couldn't do it. If I was in that mind frame and had no reason not to play, I couldn't sit there and watch it."

St Ledger admits that Carlow have become "accustomed" to suffering big losses, adding: "You're growing up with these beatings.

"To be honest, a massive culture change is needed in the county.

"I don't think it's going to happen in my time, but it needs a complete revamp.

"It needs to be gutted. That could take 10 or 15 years, but the core is that bad, just rotten at the minute.

"I'm disgusted that my time is going to be remembered as one of the worst in the county's history. That kills me a little bit. You want to be competitive and you want to get as many championship games as possible.

"That's the place to be. Club games are grand, but when it comes to the big stage, you want to do it in June on a competitive stage, where you can be tested.

"There's quite a strong tradition down here and football is what a lot of people talk about.

"We have good footballers and we love the game, but there is a general level of apathy."

But having analysed last Sunday's 0-6 to 7-13 defeat at Dr Cullen Park on video, St Ledger identified 2-4 or 2-5 that went begging, including an early goal chance.

And he said: "It's probably a bit of sharpness missing with us. We hadn't a competitive game against a decent side and there's going to be a bit of rustiness there.

"That showed in some of our defending but credit to Meath, when they saw a goal chance they took it. That's the level you're playing at in championship football."

MEDIOCRITY

St Ledger added: "Everything starts at grass roots. That's where the whole thing comes from.

"There's a general level of acceptance of let's say, mediocrity, or worse than that.

"I don't see any real drive to push the thing forward. I don't think there's any massive intention to improve. I won't say happy to stagnate, but it seems to be about keeping the books balanced, keep the thing ticking over and have a solid club championship.

"But as regards really pushing the county teams on, I don't think the necessary drive is there at the minute. It's a multi-faceted thing, coming from players and clubs and to a higher level. It's not just one individual or one particular aspect – there are five or six different elements to it."

And St Ledger revealed: "If everybody takes the attitude that there's no point and we'll just give up, football will be extinct in Carlow in a few years.

"But we have 30 lads who said that we're going to give it an effort and keep the thing moving. I can only commend lads like that and I can only say good things about the lads in there at the minute.

"We've had some serious knockdowns and bad results, but the effort has been phenomenal and doesn't always get shown."

Irish Independent

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