herald

Tuesday 12 December 2017

Leinster counties need quick win or face grim spring

Jason Ryan
Jason Ryan

BY the time Motion 62 of 68 comes up for discussion/vote at the annual GAA Congress in the Slieve Russell Hotel in Cavan tomorrow, not everyone present may be fully engrossed in its detail.

But context and rationale of its merits will be in thick supply across county grounds this weekend.

In short, Motion 62, submitted by the Leinster Council, calls for the four provincial bodies to have free reign in organising their provincial championships.

If passed - it is presumed - Leinster Council will use this new power to seed the Leinster SFC and supplant a round-robin therein for those counties with realistically no chance of winning it.

As if to pre-empt the vote, 10 of the 11 competing Leinster SFC teams failed to win on the League's opening weekend. The exception - Offaly - who beat London.

relegated

Last year, five Leinster counties were relegated while another, Carlow finished bottom of Division 4.

Come summer, Dublin were the only Eastern province participants in the last eight of the All-Ireland SFC and in 2015, are its sole representative in Division 1 of the League.

So when Dermot Earley said last week that he couldn't see anyone challenging Dublin in Leinster for "the next three of four years", he was armed with statistical backup.

Alarmingly, it's not just Leinster's back-peddlers who are struggling.

Three of those who could claim high-ranking; Kildare, Laois and Wexford, already have crisis-avoidance issues to attended to this weekend.

Kildare, after one calamitous afternoon and two losses, face Westmeath at home in a match they should and must win to avoid a local apocalypse.

Earley went on to say that it was "too early to panic," for his county comrades but rooted to the foot of Division 2, anything less than a comprehensive win will stitch further uncertainty into a team in the process of being redesigned by Jason Ryan and their fans, who habitually gravitate towards extremes as it is.

Things could be darker for Laois should they fail to beat Division 2 pace-setters, Galway, in Tuam.

Tomás Ó Flatharta said, bluntly, after their home defeat to Cavan: "We have five more games left and you'd be looking down the road asking where are we going to get wins there?"

Former captain Kevin Meaney, withdrew from the panel some weeks back, following the paths of Conor Meredith, Craig Rogers and Michael John Tierney, so optimism is understandably deficient.

combat

Recently, Wexford were one of the few counties who could accurately claim to have troubled Dublin in provincial combat.

Yet they are glued to the bottom of Division 3 and face Louth, who were impressive/shock winners over Clare two weeks back.

"This is a big game for Wexford. We need points," acknowledged their manager, David Power, formerly of 2011 Tipperary All-Ireland minor winning fame.

A sentiment understandably shared across much of the province this weekend.

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