By Kieran Murphy
TURLOUGH O’Brien was one relieved man at the end of this absorbing league game. Defeat would have seen them slide nearer the second of two relegation spots. At this stage, Sligo look set for the drop to Division 4 but it is all to play for with two games remaining.
“It was a massive win for us,” said O’Brien. “It has been frustrating for the players as we have been tipped off in games. We could have won every game we played so far. I really feel that and as a result we were very down against Offaly. It was a game we should have won. We regrouped. They are honest lads. They knuckled down during the week and were anxious to make amends. There was big Carlow support behind them and that made a difference,” he said.
O’Brien said Carlow had to battle without one of their highly rated forwards.
“It was a great performance. If you had previewed the game and Paul Broderick wasn’t playing, you would have said Carlow would have been affected by it. They stood up and other lads contributed to it.”
Carlow made changes for this game. Conor Crowley of Palatine started while Benny Kavanagh also came in. Eoghan Ruth dropped back down the pitch while Jordan Morrissey and Sean Gannon pushed further forward. That meant some tough selection decisions had to be made with Turlough dropping his son, Darragh, to the bench.
“It has never been a factor as long as I have been involved. It never affects Darragh either. He is very strong mentally,” the Carlow manager said.
O’Brien knows what lies ahead now.
“We are happy to get the win. We have two massive games ahead of us. Down in two weeks’ time – the aristocrats of football,” he pointed out.
At another time, Carlow goalkeeper Robert Sansom could well have been playing for Louth against Carlow. The player who helped Ballinabranna back to senior status in 2018 scoring crucial goals for his Carlow club, is actually a former Louth goalkeeper.
“I know a lot of the lads. I have known Tommy Durnin since I was a child. It was great to see all the boys. Wouldn’t it be great if we could both go up? There was a good bit of slagging there on the pitch, as you would expect.
“I came down expecting to get a degree, get a job and move back up. Things are not that simple. I am very lucky. I ended up in a great college, ended up working in the college for a year and ended up getting a job close to home which is here now. I am very lucky to have got the opportunity,” said Sansom, who is working with Kildare GAA.
“Growing up I always wanted to play with Louth. In another life, I could have been there on the opposite side. It is just the way things fell,” he said.
At the start of the season it was presumed he came into the Carlow squad as a forward but now he wearing the number one jersey.
“I got my chance (against Offaly) last week but unfortunately the result didn’t go our way. I was lucky to hold on tonight,” he explained.
Sansom says Carlow are working brutally hard in training.
“There has been a savage amount of work. We pride ourselves on retaining possession and holding on to it for long periods. It is something we have worked on in training, week in, week out.
“People think we just get players behind the ball but a lot of work goes into it. The intensity we bring, I don’t know too many teams who can match it. When it got close there tonight I don’t know how many turnovers we made inside our own 45.”