Carew leads Sligo into his first Connacht championship match against Roscommon tomorrow and will hope for a big return from the duo, whom he says are 100% fit.
In the last two seasons both Kelly and Marren have carried niggles into the championship and have failed to rediscover their best form for summer football, but Carew believes that if Sligo bring an attacking ethos to the championship, they have the ability to do damage to any defence in the country.
“They are in great shape and I’m wrapping them up in cotton wool, to be honest. It’s a hard balance to strike,” said the former Kildare forwards coach.
“The reason I took the Sligo job was because of Mark Breheny, Adrian, David and lads like that. They are serious players and hugely talented.
“We didn’t have David Kelly fit until our third game of the league, but if we had everyone fit then like we have now, I’d have been very disappointed not to get promoted.
“I think with the forwards I have at my disposal, I would be crazy to play defensively. You have to play to your strengths and with the scorers we have, I have to play a more attacking game.
“If we go on the defensive you won’t get the most out of lads like David Kelly, Pat Hughes, Adrian Marren and Mark Breheny.”
It’s five years since the neighbours last met in the championship and that time has seen a divergence in their respective successes. Sligo only secured their Division 3 status this year with a last-day victory over Armagh, while Roscommon were the talking point of the spring after their promotion to Division 1.
While Carew admits he is impressed with the Rossies, he has yet to see them impress during the summer, under John Evans. “In their eyes, they are a Division 1 team now and they are, I suppose. They haven’t played in it yet though,” said Carew.
“But after Division 2, they were talking about winning All-Irelands and they are in a different place than we are. John Evans is in there three years now, but they still haven’t got to the last eight with him so the jury is still out on them in terms of what they’re like in the summer. I’m hoping we will test that again on Saturday.
“They haven’t got to the last eight in those three years so I think Sligo have a real opportunity against them. Yes Roscommon have made real strides in the winter months and fair play to them, but they still have to do it in the summer. Maybe this is their year but we’re hoping to scupper that.”
Five years working alongside Kieran McGeeney as selector in Kildare and two years as Waterford manager have prepared Carew for his first taste of Connacht football tomorrow.
McGeeney was a huge influence on him and the pair remain in regular contact even now, but the chance to go it alone was too good to ignore, he says.
“I had five great years working with him.
“We got to five All-Ireland quarter-finals, an All-Ireland semi-final and a couple of Leinster finals. We were very unlucky with some decisions that went against us, and maybe we were the kick of a ball away from an All-Ireland.
“He is so driven in everything he does and I certainly learned a lot from him. It was a great five years but then I went two years on my own with Waterford.
“I felt it was time to freshen things up. It’s hard being a selector the whole time, but I loved my time working for Geezer. But sometimes you have to move on. And that experience has been great for me. No disrespect to London, but every game we played this year was in preparation to playing Roscommon. We knew they’d win over there our focus has been on getting ready to face them on Saturday. We want to perform and deliver on our potential now.”.