CARLOW senior hurling manager Colm Bonnar was happy with the win over Laois on Sunday but he was even more lifted by the attitude of a panel of players with several new faces in their midst.
“2018 was a smashing year for Carlow and we are glad to finish it off on a very positive note,” he said.
“We have stepped up with the big boys and we have worked hard on our strength and conditioning side. We showed today the lads are pretty strong even though we have a very small panel.
“We have seven, eight lads who are not available to us. To see the young lads like Jon Nolan, Ted Joyce and Ciaran Whelan who have come in. We have 10 different scorers in the second half and they showed how much they wanted it and how much they wanted to wear that jersey.
“We are absolutely delighted with their attitude, their application, their commitment and their application,” the Carlow manager said.
A travelling supporter joked that calories don’t matter in December. On the other hand, the manager is confident the players will keep themselves in good shape over the festive period in anticipation of the league starting on 26 January against Dublin.
“We have another session left but they will do a lot of the work over the Christmas. There is great accountability in them. They know where they are going and how much they have to do.
“Obviously the likes of likes of your Dublins, your Galways and your Waterfords are going to be a huge test for us. Then we will be finishing with two games against Laois and Offaly. We are delighted to score 2-23 on the 16th of December. We are playing good hurling and left a couple of goals behind us. We were going for it and that is all you can ask as a manager.
Centre-back David English sang from the same hymn sheet as his manager.
“Overall, it is still December,” the Ballinkillen man said. “We are more happy with the effort the lads put in than the result. We left a small bit of it on the pitch against Dublin but today we proved we do have the right attitude and the mentality going into the league. It was more so the work-rate than the result itself.”
He praised the contribution of the newcomers.
“The likes of Ciaran (Whelan) and Jon (Nolan) coming in. They were essentially making their debuts and they were not afraid to take shots. That is reassuring going into the league. It is good for lads on the line to see that happening as well.”
Eddie Byrne, James Doyle and John Michael Nolan are just three of a cohort of players who are unavailable at the moment.
“Imagine what you will have when those lads come back. There is plenty of competition for places and that is how it should be,” said English.