Speaking exclusively to The Munster Express 24 hours after his team’s one-point reversal, the Kildare native was still struggling to come to terms with the result.
“I’m absolutely devastated,” he admitted. “But I think it shows you how far we’ve come on when you’re absolutely devastated after losing a qualifier game. When I came to Waterford first, losing such a match would have been accepted, regardless of how bad or good people think Carlow have been going – and you can’t forget Carlow beat Meath in 2012 and Louth in 2011 so they’re not too bad.”
Carew added: “We always knew it was going to be a dogfight but whether we like it or not, Waterford are at the same general level as Carlow, but the line of form going into it would suggest that we were hot favourites, and even though we played poorly, we could still have come out of it with a win, despite having about six lads that played up to their potential while the other nine didn’t – and you’re not likely to win a Championship match taking those numbers into consideration.”
Was it possible that there some complacency in Deise ranks given the hiding Carlow had received at the hands of Meath (now Leinster finalists) in the provincial series?
“Without a doubt – sure that’s human nature,” Carew admitted. “Every lad I spoke to last night after the match really thought we were going to win the game.
“Complacency is something you could do without when you’re not successful, when you’re not used to winning games, and we aren’t, unfortunately; sure we gave Leitrim a taste of that in the League ourselves, but we just didn’t perform at the desired level, and that’s hugely disappointing.”
So what now for Niall Carew when it comes to his potential Waterford future?
“I’ll certainly have to sit down with the County Board and the players and see where it takes me,” he replied.
“I’ve got to ask myself the question: am I the man for the job? Am I the man to bring these lads on?
“The only way you can judge that is by results, and this year, considering the work we put into it, both from players and management, the results have been disappointing and there’s no getting away from that. I’ve got to ask myself some serious questions, and I’ll be asking myself a lot of questions over the next week or two and see where it takes me.
“For me, I’ve certainly no decision made on it yet; it’s not nailed down that I’d take it nor is it nailed down that I’d necessarily be offered it either so for me, I’m in a bad place at the moment to be honest.
“Right now I’m just trying to get over the disappointment of losing the match, but if the players wanted me to stay on…ultimately the final decision is with the County Board so it won’t be my decision to make either.
“And I know it’s a silly thing to say, but it really does feel like a death, but that’s how it feels, it feels like someone belonging to me has died, but I’m saying that while safe in the knowledge that there’s a hell of a lot more people out there with much greater anguish than I have over a game of football, but when you put so much into something, you can’t help how you feel and that’s just where I am right now.”