By Kieran Murphy
FOR sure the Carlow team don’t want to hear this but an examination of the programme and of the 15 Dublin players who started illustrates what the Barrowsiders were facing on Sunday in this Leinster Senior Hurling Championship third round game at Netwatch Cullen Park.
The metropolitans starting 15 listed players coming from thirteen different clubs. Carlow’s starting 15 came from five. For Carlow to even be on the same pitch as their foe is an achievement in itself.
The numbers game is definitely weighed and has been weighted heavily against Carlow for years now. You won’t hear this from any of the Carlow hurlers though. They just want to play against the best and improve themselves in the process.
Paul Ryan and Marty Kavanagh shared a point a piece in the opening minutes here. A quality Cian Boland point into the scoreboard end of the ground nudged Dublin into a lead they were never to lose. Ronan Hayes added to it before Kavanagh fed Sean Whelan for a Carlow point.
Dublin have big men who can move up front. Give them good ball and they will punish any side. When Carlow failed to deal with a long delivery the ball fell kindly for Eamon Dillon and he found the bottom left-hand corner of the Carlow net. Despite points from Kavanagh, Eddie Byrne and John Michael Nolan Dublin continued to turn the screw.
A fabulous move involving Conal Keaney and Ryan put in Dillon for his second goal on 28 minutes. By half-time the Dubs were 2-10 to 0-8 ahead. That was also after losing Shane Barrett to a straight red card when his hurl appeared to make contact with Jack Kavanagh’s helmet as the midfielder looked for a way through the Dublin defence.
Against the reduced numbers Carlow should have been able to get at Dublin. Instead it was the visitors who picked off the first three points of the second half as Ryan, Dillon and Keaney all pointed. Chris Nolan replied with a free on 39 minutes.
Carlow had one good goal-chance when Marty Kavanagh broke down the right, took on the Dublin defence and when he made space for himself let fly. It looked a goal all over but the crossbar saved Dublin and Carlow got nothing out of that attack. Instead Ryan landed a point from play two minutes later.
The home side never came to terms with their superior numbers. Clearances and passes into the Dublin back-line were mopped up by a defence who seemed to actually have the extra-man themselves. On other occasions two side-line balls were wasted and while Carlow did put some nice moves together they were unable to finish off what they started.
Eventually, James Doyle did find a way through the Dublin defence and his shot beat Alan Nolan in the Dublin goal. Two good points from Chris Nolan asked a question of the visiting side which they answered without fuss.