Leinster Football Championship - County-by-County Guide Tue 12 May 2015 DUBLIN Manager: Jim Gavin (3rd year). Titles: Leinster 52 (holders) All-Ireland 24 (2013). 2015 championship: Leinster quarter final; Dublin 4-25 Longford 0-10. Semi final; Dublin 5-18 Kildare 0-14. Final; Dublin 2-13 Westmeath 0-6. Beat Fermanagh in the All-Ireland quarter-final by eight points. Drew semi-final 2-12 to 1-15 against Mayo but won the replay by seven points. All-Ireland final Dublin 0-12 kerry 0-9. How it unfolded Learnt next to nothing from the Leinster campaign - beating three teams who will be in Division Three next season and then met Fermanagh in the last eight. Caught badly last year and questions remained over the impact that had on their own psyche as well as on the fear factor they instilled in many opponents. Solid rehabilitation in the league: 35 players were used and the “open borders” style amended to produce the tightest defence in Division One but issues remained at centrefield and also in relation to tearing holes in blanket defences. They lacked belief and a killer instinct of old against Mayo, not to mention discipline - but their first competitive game of the summer and a much improved replay showing helped them no end ahead of a decider against old foes Kerry. One in which their new found defensive organisation finally came together, as they showed maturity in sealing a third All-Ireland in five years. CARLOW Manager: Turlough O’Brien (1st season). Titles: Leinster 1 (1944) All-Ireland 0 2015 championship: Lost first round 3-16 to 0-8 against Laois. And then their qualifier game to Longford (1-8 to 2-15). How it unfolded League table suggested that not much had changed for Carlow this year but under new manager Turlough O’Brien the campaign was more positive with a promotion place fleetingly available. Defence improved on last year – three goals conceded in the league compared to 11 in last year’s two championship matches – but they still looked vulnerable and Brendan Murphy’s departure proved a major blow against Laois. Their Leinster campaign was short, and their provincial rivals Longford ended their season in the first round of qualifiers. KILDARE Manager: Jason Ryan (2nd year). Titles: 12 Leinster (2000) 4 All-Ireland (1927). 2015 championship: Drew with Laois in Leinster quarter-final. Won replay 3-19 to 1-11. Lost semi final 5-18 to 0-14 against Dublin but recovered with a two-point win against Offaly and a 19-point win over Longford. Then beat Cork 1-21 to 1-13. Lost All-Ireland quarter-final 7-16 to 0-10 v Kerry. How it unfolded A rough couple of years for Jason Ryan saw Kildare down two divisions, relegation in both cases by narrow margins. The under-21s ran Dublin close but there wasn’t a vast store of rising talent either. County has tended to push hardest in qualifiers though and they showed that again after the Dublin massacre. In the league they beat Laois thanks to a last-gasp goal and it took a late Tommy Moolick point to earn a replay against the same opponents in the Leinster championship. They showed something of the McGeeney era in the replay and replicated that against Offaly and Longford. They improved with key players returning to fitness, and the scalp over Cork turned around their season. But Kerry defeat was even worse than the Dublin one - sour note to end a hot and cold 2015. LAOIS Manager: Tomás Ó Flatharta (2nd year). Titles: Leinster 6 (2003) All-Ireland 0. 2015 championship: Beat Carlow 3-16 to 0-8 in the Leinster first round before drawing with Kildare in the quarter-final. Lost replay 3-19 to 1-11. Then lost 2-15 to 1-16 against Antrim in the qualifier first round. How it unfolded Typically inconsistent season, that couldn't have ended any worse for them. Tomás Ó Flatharta was short of options in defence but had a very good centrefield in the pairing of Brendan Quigley’s ball-winning and John O’Loughlin’s movement and skill. Up front, Ross Munnelly was flat although Donie Kingston had been excellent. They had their chances to get past Kildare, but couldn't finish off the job. Then fell apart against Antrim. LONGFORD Manager: Jack Sheedy (2nd year). Titles: Leinster 1 (1968) All-Ireland 0 2015 championship: Lost Leinster quarter-final to Dublin 4-25 to 0-10 having beaten Offaly. Then beat Carlow 2-15 to 1-8 and Clare 2-12 to 1-12 in the qualifiers. Lost 0-11 to 2-24 against Kildare. How it unfolded Three championship wins from five games wasn't bad, but they conceded more than they scored such was the manner of those two losses. A positive regulation league as the only unbeaten side in all four divisions was undermined by such a crushing defeat in the Leinster final. Long-term injuries cleared and the promising under-21 crop, including players like Ross McNerney, blended nicely with more established performers. Managed to turn around the league final defeat against Offaly in their provincial opener but the Dublin and Kildare hammerings were morale sapping. LOUTH Manager: Colin Kelly (1st year). Titles: Leinster 8 (1957) All-Ireland 3 (1957). 2015 championship: Lost Leinster first round to Westmeath 3-14 to 0-16. Qualifier win over Leitrim (1-16 to 0-11) before a 0-7 to 3-21 defeat against Tipperary. How it unfolded An opening day defeat to fellow strugglers Westmeath, a precipitous decline from Division Two to Four in successive seasons; performances have fluctuated from decent to awful. Although Mick O’Dwyer was brought in as a consultant, morale remained low after an array of retirements removing quality players such as Paddy Keenan and Shane Lennon. Centrefield really struggled, the defence was porous and indiscipline seen the team lose a player in most league matches. The Tipperary defeat summed it all up. But apart from that . . . OFFALY Manager: Pat Flanagan (1st year). Titles: Leinster 10 (1997) All-Ireland 3 (1982). 2015 championship: Lost Leinster first round to Longford 0-13 to 0-16. Won qualifier against Waterford (1-20 to 1-7) before a two point defeat against Kildare. How it unfolded Extraordinarily the county came into 2015 having failed to win a Leinster championship match in eight years. You can make that nine now. Pat Flanagan calmed the jitters and got Offaly back out of the league basement in just one year. The team’s defence was the tightest in the entire league but the attack was fitful. Niall McNamee, however, signalled a return to form in the timely divisional final win over Longford. There was improvement and after the league final they were upbeat about challenging the recent poor record against the same team but let their lead slip when it mattered most. Albeit expected, the win over Waterford was crucial. It was their first championship win in four years. They pushed Kildare hard thereafter and will note the progress made in 2015. MEATH Manager: Mick O’Dowd (3rd year). Titles: Leinster 21 (2010) All-Ireland 7 (1999). 2015 championship: Quarter-final four-point win over Wicklow. Lost semi-final 3-19 to 2-18 to Westmeath. Then lost 0-11 to 1-10 against Tyrone. How it unfolded A decent league steadied the ship after last year’s disappointments, although there was frustration at missing the elevator on the last day. With Conor Gillespie and Eamon Wallace back a fourth Leinster final against Dublin looked on the cards. Wicklow highlighted some serious flaws though, and Westmeath exposed those. Mick O’Dowd's side were then paired with Tyrone and despite a good showing they came up short. Hard to see the improvement here, with a lack of strength-in-depth a most obvious concern. WESTMEATH Manager: Tom Cribbin (1st year). Titles: Leinster 1 (2004) All-Ireland 0 2015 championship: Won Leinster first round against Louth 3-14 to 0-16. Before 1-21 to 0-15 win over Wexford and then a 3-19 to 2-18 win over Meath. Lost the final to Dublin 0-6 to 2-13. Then 0-7 to 1-13 qualifier loss v Fermanagh. How it unfolded What a way to win their first ever championship game against Meath. Team struggled in the league, they lacked the physique and organisation necessary to mix it with the best teams and relegation was exacerbated by the remarks of manager Tom Cribbin, blaming (unspecified) high-profile players for lack of leadership. The Louth and Wexford wins boosted confidence levels though and after the heroics against Meath they kept their dignity somewhat intact against Dublin. Injuries to John Heslin and others really cost them against Fermanagh. WEXFORD Manager: David Power (1st year). Titles: Leinster 10 (1945) All-Ireland 5 (1918). 2015 championship: Lost Leinster quarter-final to Westmeath 1-21 to 0-15. Qualifier win followed against Down but lost 0-10 to 1-16 against Derry. How it unfolded A calamitous campaign for Wexford saw them slip into the bottom of the league with the worst scoring difference in the four divisions. In his first year David Power had to rebuild in the wake of influential departures and with little encouraging in the underage pipeline. A spirited performance against Westmeath still ended with a nine point defeat, making it clear that the days of being a top team in Leinster are gone. Big upset against Down though, but Derry were quicken to put out that fire. WICKLOW Manager: Jonny Magee (1st year). Titles: Leinster 0 All-Ireland 0. 2015 championship: Lost Leinster quarter-final to Meath 3-12 to 2-19. Armagh then beat them 2-17 to 2-7 in the qualifiers. How it unfolded Jonny Magee’s challenge in taking on Wicklow has been complicated with all of the experienced talent lost to injury and retirement. He was moved to protest that he wasn’t a magician in the wake of the dispiriting defeat by bottom team London. They showed real heart, not to mind potential in bringing Meath to just four points. That was reflected in a battling display against Armagh, an unfortunate draw this year but they should benefit long-term as a result.