THE 2010 season may only be in its infancy but former Limerick hurling All Star Joe Quaid feels the year is already a write-off for his county.
"It's curtains before we even start," he says, "and there's blame on all sides. The county board have shown no leadership whatsoever, how Justin (McCarthy) is staying on when he's lost the dressing room is beyond me, and the players haven't covered themselves in glory either," he added.
"The county board had a meeting two weeks ago and the issue wasn't even mentioned or brought up. Not only should the board be ashamed, the club delegates should be too. This is the biggest crisis Limerick hurling has ever faced and it's swept under the carpet.
"Justin can hardly be happy with his tactics in last year's All-Ireland semi-final, the players didn't go out to play badly but they were beaten by 26 points by Tipperary and the board have never taken ownership of this crisis at all. Blame can be apportioned."
With the National Hurling League looming and Limerick already knocked out of the Waterford Crystal Cup by UCC, the signs are that McCarthy's young guns could be in for a rough ride as the year unfolds, especially with just six of the panel available from August's All-Ireland semi-final against Tipperary.
To date, McCarthy and his selectors Brian Ryan, Liam Garvey and John Tuohy have used 45 players in three games against UCC, Blackrock and Wexford.
"Look, you can't bring in 25 young lads en masse and expect them to hold their ground," Quaid argues. "My own nephew, Tommy's (Quaid) young lad, Nicky, is in there at the moment and he's a fine hurler but how could he cope with so many other youngsters around him? Jesus, two or three newcomers per year is enough on a senior team, not 23."
Even allowing for some heavy beatings, the twice former All Star 'keeper says the year is now likely to end with McCarthy at the helm.
"He's shown he's pig-headed anyway and I'd say he'll stay on. Personally, if the team didn't want me, I'd be out of there long ago. But from an overall perspective, Limerick hurling is at war now and all that's happening is different parties are point-scoring against each other.
"The supporters are split down the middle too," he continues. "Some are backing Justin and others are on the side of the players. This will only get worse before it gets better."
The 1994 and '96 All-Ireland finalist reckoned there was one last chance at redemption when the county board met last week.
"It took the players a long time to release a statement and in that regard they should have put pressure on and acted like Cork last year. By that I mean they had no press conference to explain what was happening and they didn't train on their own like the '09 Cork side. But when they did release their statement it was the perfect chance for delegates to raise it at board level and demand that their voice be heard.
"But no, we buried the issue and now we're on the verge of a new season with a new team. I can see why Justin is staying on, it wouldn't look good to be got rid of in both Waterford and Limerick in such a short space of time and he probably feels he can rebuild a new team. I hope I'm wrong but I have my doubts."