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Westmeath forward star Dolan lends his coaching skills to Dempsey's Carlow

LUKE DEMPSEY has dismissed any suggestion that Dessie Dolan junior could be about to join his backroom team in Carlow.

Dolan has opted off the Westmeath panel this season, and eyebrows were raised in his home county when it emerged that he had been invited to attend a recent Carlow training session by his old Lake County boss.

But Dempsey told the Evening Herald that this was "purely a once-off" arrangement with the Moate Community School teacher, who has considerable coaching experience at schools level.

"I asked him to come down and take the forwards for a coaching session. I do that regularly with different outside groups," he explained.

"Last year we had Peter Canavan and Paddy Christie talking to the group ... it was purely my friendship with him (Dolan) over the years."

Dempsey approached the former All Star following their league defeat to Limerick, when they kicked 13 wides and just seven points. Asked if Dolan's intervention had worked, the Carlow manager replied that they scored 1-11 in their next drawn match against Waterford and 1-15 in last Sunday's O'Byrne Shield final win over Wexford. "It went very well," he concluded.

While Dolan's inter-county exile is a source of ongoing angst for Westmeath fans, Carlow themselves could badly do with a forward of his pedigree. Even more so given that Dempsey is facing a selection crisis up front for their next NFL Division Four outing against championship rivals Wicklow next Sunday.

Experienced campaigner Simon Rea suffered a fractured rib during their storming comeback against Wexford and will be out for several weeks.

Also missing for the trip to Aughrim are suspended duo Eric McCormack (sent off against Wexford) and JJ Smith (banished against Waterford), along with stricken skipper Brian Murphy who is out for the season with a cruciate ligament injury.

Murphy is due for reconstructive knee surgery this week. An older brother of ex-Aussie Rules player Brendan, he initially suffered the injury in training last January but actually played in Carlow's opening league win over Longford, before the extent of his injury was confirmed.

With vital points at stake, Dempsey is adamant that there is no scope for shadow-boxing against Wicklow, whom they face in the Leinster SFC first round on May 16.

"Unfortunately this weekend we are minus some of our first-choice forwards, which is a bit disconcerting, but we are looking at every weekend of the National League as an entity in itself," he declared