By Kieran Murphy
IT was appropriate when it was all over that the Carlow players should be mobbed by a solid rump of family connections and supporters who have travelled together through thick and thin with this team.
The players needed this affirmation when it looked as if the league campaign was going to end badly. In return after this huge victory they mingled and accepted the plaudits of those loyal supporters. It was a special moment.
“Look at everybody here. There is family and friends here. Good clubmen. This is fantastic for Carlow. Four senior clubs. There is also Alan Corcoran from Bagenalstown Gaels,” said David English.
“It is great for youngsters coming here to see this. Hopefully we can pull off a strike against one of the bigger teams in the championship.”
Leading Carlow scorer Marty Kavanagh was one of the last players to leave for the dressing room. Before he did he presented his jersey to Pajo O’Brien of Carlow Town Hurling Club. It was a symbolic gesture from the Carlow player who must now be recognised as one of the county’s best ever exponents of the small ball game.
Kavanagh acknowledging what winning meant for Carlow hurling.
“It is everything for us, for this group of players. It will be great to have Division 1 hurling again next year. I cannot overstate the importance of that,” he said.
Never for a moment did he think the game was gone from them.
“Eleven points sounds a lot but it is not a lot. Two pucks of the ball and that is what happened. 2-1 in a few minutes. It couldn’t have happened any better for us,” he conceded.
“We said we owed ourselves.”
How often do players look up and see the figure of four or five minutes shining out in defiance from the fourth official’s board.
This time there was only two. It was time to kill the game after Joe Bergin’s free left only the minimum between them. With the ball stuck on the ground inside the Offaly 45-metre line, the seconds tipped down and into the 73rd minute.
“Lads were stepping on the ball. I looked over and saw the referee with his hands out. I was full sure he was throwing in the ball but thankfully it was full-time. It means everything,” said Kavanagh.