By Kieran Murphy
IT was the end of a memorable campaign. Fulfilling a dream and possibly doing something most of the Carlow players never thought they would be doing when they were playing underage with their clubs.
As a unit, they stayed together on the pitch at the end chatting and talking to supporters, friends and family members. Everyone knew this was the end of the Leinster championship dream. It was time to ponder and look back with a degree of satisfaction tinged with regret too.
“There is a higher intensity,” said Michael Doyle. “It is a full 70 minutes. You don’t have as much time on the ball. A lot of our downfall was from our own selves. A bad start. Not getting into the game and giving ourselves too much to do. At this level you will get punished.
“It is experience. It is a step up from last year. We have proved from this campaign we can compete with them. We have the skills. I think the experience of this will set us up in future. We want to stay in Leinster. This is where we want to be,” the Rangers man maintained.
At any stage the team could have folded, but Carlow never did.
“We have values as a team. When things get tough we don’t give in. That comes from the management and it comes from the players. Leaders in the team and we have a very strong bond within the team. I hope it stays like this into the future.”
Going forward all the players know they will be playing in NHL Division 1B in 2020.
“We will be competing against the likes of Kilkenny and Clare. It can only be good for Carlow hurling in the future. It is about getting to that level. we created chances in every games,” said goalkeeper Brian Treacy.
“Maybe bar the Kilkenny one, which was a let-down, we held our own against Galway. We missed chances against Dublin which was significant. I know a 12-point beating is a 12-point beating but even today, we had goal chances and didn’t pull the trigger. That is the difference. We are getting to the work-rate, we are getting to the pace. It is about pulling the trigger and getting that final pass away.”
There are some who suggest Carlow should have been guaranteed two years in Leinster. Treacy didn’t disagree.
“It is unfortunate you are up and then down again. That was our big goal at the start of the year. It is unfortunate we didn’t retain our Liam MacCarthy status. It didn’t happen,” he lamented.
Irrespective of what happens for the remainder of the All-Ireland series, Marty Kavanagh must be in line for an All-Star nomination.
“It was a really enjoyable experience up here,” he said. “It is what you dream of. It is a pity it is all over and we have to go back and start all over again. We all know how hard the Joe McDonagh is to win.”
“We can be happy enough but also disappointed with some of our performances. We are new to this type of hurling. We shouldn’t be too down on ourselves but that is the level we expect from ourselves,” the St Mullins man reiterated.
Carlow conceded early goals in all their games. It was something they were unable to avoid doing.
“For some reason it kept happening,” said Kavanagh who also picked up a second yellow on 73 minutes.
It was hard to see what the first yellow was for on 47 minutes. He was unable to explain why either. At the time there was animated conversation between the Carlow centre-forward and the referee.
“It wasn’t a dirty game. The first card wasn’t a yellow. No problem with the second but these things happen. Two yellows. It is ruining lads’ games at the moment. The referees are giving cards for nothing and you have to watch yourself for the rest of the game. It isn’t fair.”