Cool hand Luke relishing ‘tough task’ with Carlow

NEW Carlow manager Luke Dempsey is confident he can change the fortunes of the Division Four side.

Dempsey was formally ratified as Paul Bealin’s successor at Friday night’s Carlow County Board meeting, ensuring he will return to the position that he held briefly during the 2004 championship season.

Dempsey, who has had spells at the helm in Longford and Westmeath, dramatically pulled out of the race to become Meath manager last month claiming his position had become untenable. Now he is looking forward to putting that controversy behind him and concentrating on his new post.

“What happened in Meath was disappointing but it’s an episode I’d like to forget about. I have this chance to stay in management. When I left Longford I wanted to stay involved in intercounty management and I’m delighted to have got the chance to do that.

“Intercounty is where the high standards are and the skilful players are operating.

“I was with Carlow in 2004 and really enjoyed it. I’m going back home now in a sense, having gone to secondary school in the county and lived there for 15 years.

“I’m living in Mullingar and it’s going to be a 140 mile round trip. It was easier now to take the job because my children have grown up and I’ve only one left in school. I’m looking forward to the job.”

Carlow endured a miserable championship, crashing out in the first round to Meath by 20 points and they were unable to compete in the All-Ireland qualifiers having failed to gain promotion from Division Four.

Dempsey accepts the scale of the challenge ahead of him.

“It’s a tough task but everyone is aware of that. I love getting involved in tough tasks, I’ve been presented with them in the past. My aim is to improve matters and increase the status of Carlow football. The first aim is to try to gain promotion from Division Four and I’ll put be my shoulder to the wheel to try to deliver that.”

Dempsey has already begun the process of searching for new players and attended Sunday’s Leinster Club SFC tie which saw Carlow champions Éire Óg defeat Wicklow side Kiltegan. He hopes to name his backroom team next weekend and will then hold player trials in December.

Meanwhile Carlow are searching for a new hurling manager after Jim Greene tendered his resignation on Saturday after just one year in charge. Greene, who guided Carlow to Christy Ring Cup success in August, resigned over a dispute with the county board relating to intercounty training in the pre-Christmas period.

Greene sought to establish a training programme for the county senior hurling panel, involving three sessions a week before Christmas.

But Carlow GAA chiefs refused to sanction this programme, ruling it would contravene the new Croke Park ruling on a closed season during the latter months of the year, which prohibits collective team training before January.

Greene was also believed to have been unhappy with the timing of the Carlow team holiday to New York, which was scheduled for the first week of January without his consultation.

When the panel returns from this holiday, they will have three weeks to prepare for their opening game in Division Two of the National Hurling League against Offaly, a period of time that Greene felt was insufficient.

Greene, along with his backroom team of trainer, John McGrath, and selectors, Seamus Brennan and Cyril Hughes, tendered their resignations to County Secretary, Tommy O’Neill, on Saturday last.

County Chairman, Pat Deering, expressed his disappointment with Greene’s decision. “We had success this year with Jim in winning the Christy Ring Cup and getting promoted to Division Two where we’ll be playing some of the bigger boys. So it’s disappointing he’s made the decision to step down.”

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