EDDIE Byrne captained Carlow for this opening league match in Parnell Park. He is a straight-talker. There was no question of him feeling sorry for himself or Carlow. He called it as he saw it.
“For long periods of that game we were right up there, went toe to toe with them and matched them score for score in the first half. We came out on top at half-time,” said the Rangers man.
“Playing for 35 minutes doesn’t cut it at this level. The first 10 to 15 minutes of the second half they overran us. They changed their style and started to run at us a bit more and a bit harder. We have to be able to adapt to that.”
Whatever about the Carlow team learning from this game, one Chris Nolan is certainly learning more than anyone else about surviving at this level.
With IT Carlow in the Fitzgibbon Cup this month he has come face to face with a number of the successful Limerick senior hurling team playing with Limerick IT. During the week he was his side’s top scorer as the Carlow students got their Fitzgibbon challenge back on track after the Limerick set-back. Now Dublin in Parnell Park. If results pan out in the Fitzgibbon, he could be meeting at least five of the Dublin team if IT Carlow are drawn against a star-studded DCU outfit.
“It has been a hectic few days. We train in November and December so we can match these teams. I suppose the way we played tonight it looked as if we were going to get a result. It would have been a brilliant few days altogether. We will regroup again and get ready for Galway next weekend.”
This was a theme which Colm Bonnar also focussed on. The post-match huddle exuded energy.
“We definitely will learn. This is a great opportunity for Carlow to learn from these games. We relish these opportunities,” said the Carlow manager.
“Dublin today. Galway next Sunday. We are really looking forward to them and are up for them. We want to do as much as we can. We want to learn and want to stay up there. This is where you learn, by meeting the best hurlers in the country. Dublin have serious ambitions of getting to their own All-Ireland quarter-final.
“Disappointed and all as we are to have lost while scoring 18 points, we didn’t do enough to have a goal threat. That is something we will have to look at in our own structure and I think the players will learn from that. It is a learning curve for us.”
He conceded he was a little worried when Dublin stretched into an early 1-2 to 0-1 lead but he was impressed with his side’s ability to withstand the concession of an early goal.
“It is hard to ask both teams to have peak fitness and good form on the 26th of January. That is the conditions for both teams. Dublin had a very fast start and I was hoping it wasn’t going to keep like this.
“We found our feet and hurled very well. I thought we were good value for our two-point lead at half-time. I felt there was more in us and there was more to come but this is where Dublin have the experience. They are on the road a long time and have played at a higher level than us.”