ON Sunday, Carlow open their Division 4A campaign when they take on London at Netwatch Cullen Park. They go into a new season full of optimism with league matches against Antrim and Fermanagh on the horizon while they also are taking part in the Leinster intermediate championship. The squad is back training since November and manager, Ed Burke, couldn’t be more positive as he looks forward to the new year.
“Things are going well,” he says.
“We have a lot of last year’s crew. Some are not back because of work but we have 15-16 new players. There is a wide range of clubs, including Myshall who had no-one in last year. We think we are in a far stronger position than where we were when we were finishing last year,” he confirmed, but did say Ellen Atkinson is gone to Canada while Aoibhinn Gilmartin has work commitments and is not available.
“We are going all out. We have trained hard and played a lot of intermediate games in our challenge games. We are very competitive in comparison to where we were last year. Even looking at the results in the higher divisions over the weekend, we gave teams who won league games in the league this week some very decent challenges.”
Sunday is not quite make or break but getting a win first time out would be a huge lift.
“We are hoping to give London a good rattle and then go on and get to a league semi-final where we can see where we are going from there,” said Burke.
After that it is on to Leinster
“We are in the same group as last year. We might have lost some of our games heavily last year but we are about 500% better than where we were last year. I would hope we would be able to create a bit of a shock as well as having competitive games.”
Roisin Bailey is in her second year with the panel. She played football with Coolkenno but her father, Frank, played with Grange and her cousin, Cathal Bailey, is also on the Grange team. After transferring from Wicklow, she won an intermediate medal with St Annes two years ago. Carlow at intercounty is a step up and she is enjoying her involvement.
“We have a really good set-up. The management team have a really good foundation laid down after getting to an All-Ireland semi-final last year. It was really positive going back in to train this year,” she says.
“There is well over 30 on the panel and that is good competition for everyone. The fact that the numbers are so big makes training all the more enjoyable.
“The challenge games have helped us kick on. We are very hopeful for the Leinster championship and the All-Ireland. I know it is one game at a time but there is great confidence in the squad. It is looking good for the year now,” Roisin confirmed.
Lidl Ladies National Football League Division 4 – Group A Round 1 Fixtures
Sunday 5 February
Carlow v London, Netwatch Cullen Park, TBC
Antrim v Fermanagh, TBC, 2pm