Inside Track

Well, who are the Leinster GAA whipping boys now?

Inside Track

Joe Carroll

Reporter:

Joe Carroll

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joebellurgan2014@gmail.com

Well, who are the Leinster GAA whipping boys now?

Carlow's Seán Murphy and Ciarán Downey of Louth in action a fortnight ago. (Pic: Arthur Kinahan)

The old order is changing in the Leinster football championship - but only at the bottom end. Showing no mercy to anyone, even to their neighbours, Dublin remain streets ahead of the rest, and having gone undefeated in the competition in the last eight seasons, the champions are not going to be hauled back any time soon.

But, at the other end there's movement. Carlow and Longford have each won the title just once, Carlow as far back as 1944, Longford, twenty-four years later. Both have been in the whipping boy ranks, especially the former, long enough to make them the team all others would want to be drawn against.

That may be about to change, if, indeed, it hasn't already. League form, in the lower divisions, doesn't usually count for anything when the knock-out comes along. For proof, look no further than Louth's summer record last year and the year before that. Buoyed by promotion in successive league campaigns, the Reds' championship lights went out at an early stage in 2016 and '17, and there was no reprieve in the All-Ireland qualifiers.

Carlow, however, may be about to buck the trend. In ways, they have already. Just a fortnight after beating Louth - for the second time in the meetings - the Barrowmen, the league's fourth tier finalists, took on Kildare, and though the Lilies were touted in some quarters as the team that might at least rattle the champions' cage, on Sunday they had to give way to Turlough O'Brien's students.

And shortly after Kildare had been swept aside, Meath, another team that came in for mention as the main threat to the Dubs, couldn't match strides with Longford.

So that's it, Carlow and Longford keeping company with Dublin and Laois in the semi-finals, the rest, teams with a tradition prominent among them, eyeing the qualifiers with only the hope of winning a game or two.