Carlow determined to take out frustrations on Dubs - Meyler
WINTER'S worst in late March provides the ultimate test of commitment for all players but most especially those already ankle-deep in frustration this season.
Carlow hurlers fall neatly into that category, having unluckily lost their first three Division 1B games to Wexford, Limerick and Offaly respectively by an average margin of just over three points per game before taking a 10-point hit against Antrim last weekend.
"With a bit of luck, we could have won two and drawn one of the first three games. Instead we came away with nothing," said manager John Meyler (pictured right).
It was different last Sunday as Antrim blitzed Carlow in the first half, sentencing them to a relegation play-off next month.
Against that background, Meyler was delighted to see such an enthusiastic response to training this week as Carlow prepare for a daunting assignment against Dublin at Parnell Park on Sunday.
"This group of players are as committed as you will get anywhere in the country. You'll always hear about how much effort the top teams put in but it's the same down the line. We might be bottom of the table but the ambition and the effort from the squad is as strong as ever," he said.
Carlow, who were promoted to 1B at the start of this season, are victims of a system which has six counties in 1A and 1B. It means that there will always be very strong teams in 1B, whereas two groups of eight would leave a less competitive mix in the second group.
"It's a steep learning curve for Carlow to be in against counties who believe they should be in the top group. The lads did very well but just didn't pass that final exam in those first three games. The challenge is to get to a stage where they do that," said Meyler.
Of course, that may not be possible as Carlow could well slip back down to Division 2A, where competition is less intense – which in turn can stunt a squad's development.
"It's an issue, no question," said Meyler. "We certainly haven't given up on staying in 1B but obviously it's going to be very difficult. It might be worth considering having seven counties in 1A and 1B. That would give more scope to counties like Carlow."
As the system stands, there's every chance that the county who comes up will go straight back down to 2A and that whoever is relegated from 1B will bounce back up in a yo-yo pattern.
For now, though, Carlow's target is to regain some degree of stability against Dublin on Sunday, prior to facing a relegation play-off against Antrim, Offaly or Wexford on April 14.