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Daniel St Ledger: 'Carlow need to find the right balance between defense and attack'

By Daire Walsh

Carlow were close to joining them in NFL’s third-tier, with a promotion semi-final loss to Mickey Harte’s Louth ultimately consigning the Barrowsiders to life in Division Four for another term. Heading into this weekend’s clash ex-Carlow defender Daniel St Ledger - who, like Brian Kavanagh, previously played his club football in the capital with St Sylvester’s - believes a strong performance will be of paramount importance for the future development of the team.

“The league probably was a huge thing for them. It was a massive opportunity to get up to Division Three. Given you had two games and it was a favourable side of the draw. There was probably a bit of deflation after the Louth game and how it finished. I’d say it probably would have left a bit of a sour taste in the mouth,” St Ledger said.

“As regards going forward, I don’t think they’re going to change a whole lot in two weeks’ time. There’s not going to be massive alterations in how things are being done. I’d imagine they’d just be looking for a performance. The result, it’s just one of those things.

“They probably just want to go forward onto next year, regardless of whether it’s a win, loss or draw. Whatever it is, just putting in some kind of performance that they can say ‘right, we have something to build on’. It gives you a bit of a positive edge coming into the following year.”

Whereas his predecessor Turlough O’Brien deployed a rigid defensive set-up - in unison with selector/coach Steven Poacher - current Carlow manager Niall Carew appears to be imposing a more expansive game plan on his troops. This helped them to record wins over Waterford and Wexford in Division Four South of the NFL, but arguably worked against them in their 1-23 to 1-15 reversal at the hands of Louth.

From St Ledger’s point of view, striking a balance between two contrasting styles will be crucial if Carlow are to come out on top in Tullamore.

“I don’t always like harping back to my time, being one of those fellas now at this stage! We kind of saw ourselves ‘right, if we just go toe-to-toe and leave it to chance, nine times out 10 we’ll probably lose. There will be the odd occasion where we will come up with a victory’. When you’re playing the better teams, you have to adapt to a certain degree. It has shown that in the games so far.

“Beating teams at your own level, playing a certain way, is fine. The reality is, if you want to really progress, you have to try and get the balance a little bit more both ways. We probably went a little bit the other way where, as we went up the grades a little bit playing better teams, we probably went a little bit too defensive at times. A little bit too pragmatic.

“I’d be fearful that if they have a similar kind of style that they did against Louth, it could be a very similar scoreline. I’m sure management are aware of that. The more experienced players in the group I would have imagined would have been battening down the hatches, ‘lads, let’s rein it in a small bit and let’s try and keep ourselves in the game first and foremost’. Then see what we can do for the last 15 or 20, open up a small bit,” St Ledger concluded.

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