By Kieran Murphy
COLM Bonnar paid tribute to his Carlow team and said despite three defeats in the Leinster championship they had the right to hold their heads high. With the contrast in playing numbers available to Bonnar it is amazing to see how well Carlow perform against the big teams.
“We have to give the lads as much credit in terms of commitment and their overall attitude in being here. Yes, we knew it was going to be a huge learning experience up here in the Leinster championship,” the Carlow manager emphasised.
“Dublin are a quality team. They have been building for the last four or five years in terms of where they are at.”
Dublin won the toss and forced us to use the ball. We created 18 scoring chances and took eight. That put us under serious pressure. “We knew Dublin would create overlaps, possibly score goals and we knew we had to be a bit more clinical and I think after 30 minutes they had only scored one goal and we knew there was hope, even though there was a strong breeze there.”
By that stage Dublin were down to 14 players, having had Shane Barrett sent off for a tackle on Jack Kavanagh. Eamon Dillon’s second goal was quality, coming off the end of a move out of defence by the visitors. Bonnar admitted that his head dropped when that went in.
“When they scored the second goal it put a bit of a damper on it, being eight points down and playing with a strong breeze. The one thing they had a man sent off. I knew they wouldn’t carry the same goal threat in the second-half and it was about us getting back into it.”
Carlow needed an early second-half goal. Marty Kavanagh almost provided it, but Carlow’s key man was having one of those days where he couldn’t make it stick. Earlier, he had missed a relatively simple free and with his reputation preceding him he was well-marked by the Dublin defence.
“Marty hit a cracker of a shot, but it hit the upright,” noted Bonnar.
“They came straight back down and got a point. If we had got that we had a period of ten to 15 minutes where we were getting at them. We needed to take more scores and with James Doyle and a few points after that it could have come back to four.”
Carlow continued to mix their game up, moving the ball from deep with some accurate passing while on other occasions they tried to put balls in front of their forwards to run out onto.
“Sometimes the crowd like the ball to be hit in, but we are still trying to do the right thing. A lot of people would have thought our discipline would have got the better of us when we went behind, but we kept hurling and kept doing the right thing,” the manager pointed out.
Ultimately, it didn’t matter what Carlow did, Bonnar had to admit Dublin just did it better.
“They (Dublin) are a serious outfit. They won serious ball. They won it high, they won it low and kept us out for as long as they could. They are a serious team to play.”