McCarthy prepared for long climb to the top

On the playing fields he featured mostly in Munster, but Leinster is where Teddy McCarthy is cutting his teeth on the management stage.

He was transported to Laois last winter to take their senior hurling reins and the former Cork dual great found himself having to adapt quickly.

“It’s been difficult. I relied totally on the local knowledge at the start from the selectors around me in order to get to know the players,” he said.

“It was all a learning curve from the point of view of me buying into the players and them buying into me as a manager. The league was difficult in that sense. We were starting from a low base.”

On the face of it their results in Division 1B of the hurling league this spring may not have been hugely encouraging. They slumped to a series of defeats and ended up falling through the relegation trapdoor to Division 2A. And yet McCarthy still regards the whole experience as instructive, with his players exposed to a higher quality opposition. “Division 1B is hugely competitive and we knew that going into it. But we learned a lot from the last few matches and I hope those games will stand to us.

“We’re in Division 2 next year and that’s the hole we will have to dig ourselves out of then. I’d love to be in Division 1B next year playing teams like Dublin and Limerick. They’re the teams you want to be playing. But ultimately we’ll be judged on how we do in championship.”

That first hurdle to be overcome presents itself this evening in Dr Cullen Park as Laois take on Carlow. Being shorn of defensive lynchpins has not helped the Laois cause as they prepare to face a team that has bettered them in their meetings of late.

“Realistically, we’re decimated with injuries,” said McCarthy. “We knew at the start of the year that a few of our defenders like Brian Campion, Shane Dollard and John Brophy were out long term with injuries.

“Then a few weeks ago Joe Fitzpatrick was forced to pull out on medical grounds. That’s the bones of our back line. Carlow have beaten Laois over the last two years so it’ll be very difficult. We know what’s in front of us. Carlow are putting in a huge amount of work into hurling and they won the final in Division 2 recently.”

And yet McCarthy is looking forward to the game. Hurling in Laois received a nice boost last Saturday night when the county minors defeated Offaly and booked a Leinster semi-final spot.

“You see the minors doing well and it shows that Laois are making some strides underage as well. I’m hoping the hurling following will get behind us now.

“Local rivalry is at stake on Saturday and support is important. The guys have put in a huge commitment over last few weeks and we’re hoping to kick-start the season now.”


David Brophy's new choir and a classic Ireland v Holland game feature among today's top tips.Thursday's TV Highlights: David Brophy's new choir and a classic Ireland v Holland game

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