Carlow shot-stopper Brian Tracey is not getting too excited about his recent inclusion in the 2020 Joe McDonagh Cup Team of the Year.
Tracey, who was a mainstay for Carlow’s entire 2020 campaign, admitted that while he is pleased to receive recognition for his stellar performances between the sticks, the team’s disappointing season overshadowed any individual merits.
“It’s a nice personal award to get for any player at any level,” Tracey said of his place in the team.
He continued: “Unfortunately though, 2020 wasn’t the year we thought it would be. We were sure that it would be better than it turned out, but we were a bit unfortunate in the end. We didn’t have the luck that is required in such a tight competition.”
Carlow’s hopes of a second Joe McDonagh Cup success in three years evaporated after a narrow loss away to Kerry that was preceded by three points from a possible four in games with Antrim and Meath. Despite a poor performance and equally poor result in Colm Bonnar’s final game in charge of the Barrowsiders against Westmeath, the damage had been done in the earlier rounds ensuring Carlow would remain in hurling’s ‘second’ competition for 2021.
Podcast: Listen above to Brian Tracey on Episode 6 of Scoreline Extra, he’s the first interview, discussing this story and more.
No crowd, no excuse
While Tracey did bemoan the lack of a crowd for the entirety of the Joe McDonagh Cup, the Naomh Eoin clubman was adamant that it was neither beneficial nor detrimental to any team involved in the competition.
“It was very strange playing without a crowd but when you’re out on the field you don’t really notice it as much, so it was no excuse for us. Every team was in the same boat.”
The Carlow stalwart also revealed that the new man at the helm of the side, Tom Mullally, has been in touch with the panel. While he remained coy on what was disclosed to the squad, Tracey praised the appointment of the former Mount Leinster Rangers coach.
“Tom touched base with us and it’s a fantastic appointment for Carlow hurling. He’s the right man to steer us in the right direction”, he said.
Regarding the team’s aspirations under Mullally for 2021, Tracey insists that nothing will change for the side in terms of just taking every game as it comes.
“Our goals are just set on a game-by-game basis and of course, we want to promote from Division 2 of the league and win the Joe McDonagh Cup, but we can’t get too far ahead of ourselves either.”
Tracey, who is widely considered to be one of the top inter-county goalkeepers currently plying his trade, echoed a sentiment made by numerous intercounty players that 2020 was one of the most enjoyable years in recent memory due to the scheduling of club and inter-county fixtures.
“Getting to train and play with the club for as often as we did was so enjoyable, and I loved 2020. From my own perspective, it was fantastic.”
The Naomh Eoin man is quite clearly passionate about his club. Having failed to win the Carlow County Championship for 16 years, Tracey gave a rallying call to his fellow teammates, saying that anything less than full effort will continue a drought that has lasted far too long for such a proud club.
“It has been a drought. Nothing is going to bridge the gap to the likes of Mount Leinster Rangers (who defeated Naomh Eoin in the 2020 semi-final) and St. Mullins other than hard work.
“That’s all we can do to try and keep up with the other clubs.”
It seems like Tracey is keen to add collective success at both club and intercounty levels to his well-deserved individual recognition in 2021.