CARLOW face a daunting challenge in this year under 20 Leinster championship where they take their place in a group of four alongside Laois, Longford and Meath. Some years ago, a new development competition was introduced at this level. Carlow finally won the Andrew Corden Cup after a number of years trying in 2022. This year they won only one game in the four-team competition beating Waterford but losing to Wexford and Wicklow.
On the other hand, Laois lined up alongside Galway, Roscommon and Cork in the John Kerins Cup where they drew two games and were only edged by the Tribesmen by a single point.
There is no point in trying to say anything else but Laois have to be further ahead in rates of development than their Tuesday night rivals. Maurice Browne, the Carlow manager, acknowledges this.
“We know Laois had a good very pre-season,” he says.
“They probably are stronger at this age group in that they would have more lads up to the age level than we would have. We have a younger side and are looking to build for the future and getting something out of the year.”
The Carlow manager says the players have done what was asked of them and are looking forward to the games. Unlike in previous years, the U20 Championship is not a straight knockout and instead, Carlow are guaranteed three games. They travel to a Meath venue the following Tuesday and Longford come down to Carlow a week after that.
“The lads put in a great effort over the last few months, and we look forward to playing Laois in the County Grounds,” says Browne.
“They are training well. Championship is where it is at. The Andrew Corden Cup gave lads games. Last year we focussed on winning it and this year we focussed on giving lads games and giving our full panel a run. We gave lads more game-time this year than we gave panel members last year.”
And as for the difficult of the tasks ahead, the Carlow manager will be urging his squad to embrace the challenges.
“You want to go out and measure yourselves against the top sides in Leinster and that is what we have been looking for rather than straight knock-out. It is about giving lads experience and games at this level. A lot of them will come through to the seniors in a few years’ time.”
As the game is a Leinster Championship fixture, tickets must be bought in advance and can be purchased here.
Leinster under 20 football championship round 1 fixtures, all to be played on Tuesday 21 March.
Carlow v Laois, Netwatch Cullen Park, 7.30pm
Longford v Meath, Clonguish, 7.30pm
Wicklow v Dublin, Baltinglass, 7.30pm
Louth v Offaly, Stabannon Parnells, 7.30pm
Kildare v Westmeath, Hawkfield, 7.30pm