By Kevin Regan
Carlow Senior Footballers exited the All Ireland Senior Football Championship on Saturday in round 2 of the Qualifiers against Cavan at Kingspan Breffni Park.
However unlike what many people anticipated, Turlough O’Brien’s men gave Cavan a real run of it for long periods and enjoyed plenty of possession, particularly in the first half.
Unfortunately they couldn’t quite get those crucial scores needed to do the business on the day, but can fell aggrieved in that Darragh Foley had a perfectly good goal disallowed, while a soft free awarded to Cavan in the second half led to Cian Mackey’s decisive goal.
This was a performance full of passion, spirit, grit, intensity and above all teamwork as Carlow carried the fight to their newly promoted Division 1 opponents, the same opponents that went within a whisker of defeating All Ireland contenders Tyrone in their drawn Ulster Semi Final.
There was a messy situation before a ball was kicked in this game, as Brendan Murphy was ruled out through a suspension which was nothing short of farcical.
Brendan’s cards apparantly carried over from the league, and a black card the last day against Wicklow in which he scored 1-4 from play, meant he missed out yesterday, but the suspension only came to the attention of the management last week after a mix up with the County Board.
His absence was a crucial factor on Saturday, because Cavan really were there for the taking and had Murphy been playing then Carlow could well have caused a massive upset.
Eoghan Ruth answered the call of duty and came into midfield yesterdays game and was probably Carlow’s best performer on the day.
The Eire Og man fielded multiple high balls, won the ball back on several occasions and kicked a superb score early in the game.
Daniel St Ledger was very good on the frees, kicking Five in total straight off the deck and what Carlow would give to be able to afford to play him further up the field in front of goal.
The encouraging thing from a Carlow perspective was to see the players united in a huddle after the game.
It’s essential that the players stick together for the league next season and selector Tommy Wogan encouraged other players that are good enough to answer the call next year and if this happens then Carlow can most definitely build on yesterday and finally get out of the bottomless pit which is Divison 4 League Football.
If the players are to stick together then one would imagine that the management would have to do the same, although Wogan refused to be drawn on whether or not himself, Turlough O’Brien and all the backroom staff would be there for 2017.
Despite the result, there was many proud Carlow supporters yesterday and to be competitive with a Division 1 side for 70 minutes is concrete proof that they have what it takes to progress.
Roll on 2017!