By Kevin Regan
And so it’s here! Championship has finally arrived and you just cant beat that feeling of anticipation.
Carlow Senior Hurlers tackle a high flying Kerry side in the first round of the Leinster Round Robin series in Austin Stack Park Tralee at 1pm on Sunday, in a game which we will have Full Live commentary on with thanks to Dooley Motors Carlow.
It’s fair to say that it’s been a season of up’s and downs for Carlow so far. Having traveled to Meath with the bare bones of a team in their first Walsh Cup game, Carlow remarkably claimed victory, but lost out to I.T Carlow and Wexford afterwards.
An opening day win in Division 2A of National Hurling League away to Kildare got Pat English’s charges off to the perfect start, but disaster struck in round 2 when London dished out a hiding at Netwatch Cullen Park.
Serious questions were asked of both the players and management, however they responded in great fashion with wins against Derry and Antrim, before dramatically beating Westmeath at home to set up a League Final showdown with the Maroon men just 6 days later in Tullamore.
On what was a miserable wet day in O Connor Park, Westmeath just about got over the line to take the title, however promotion still eluded the winners due to a farcical structure which saw Laois retain Division 1B status having won just one game- a Promotion/Relegation play off to Westmeath.
Kerry have been hugely impressive this season having defeated Laois and Offaly and putting in a decent perfromance against Limerick.
Having played at a higher level this season, you would have to think that Kerry are now a slightly better side than Carlow, however this will count for very little come Sunday as Carlow have a very good record against the Kingdom.
The return of Richie Coady will come as a welcome boost to the side, after harshly missing the entire league campaign through a hideous suspension.
It doesn’t take a genius to work out that Carlow will have to produce their best performance this year to come away with the victory, and if this is to occur then it would set them up for a right cut at Offaly 6 days later in O Connor Park.
If Carlow can curtail burly Centre forward Michael O’Leary then they will go a long way towards winning the game as he is Kerry’s main ball winner.
Shane Nolan is as good a hurler as you will see around too and he can potentially cause problems if he gets even half a yard, so these two will take a bit of watching, as will everyone in the Kerry attack.
However in Marty Kavanagh and James Doyle, Carlow have their own match winners and if these guys get the right ball then a win is more than possible.
This promises to be a cracking start to the championship and weather permitting, we should see plenty of scores.
We’ll have Full Live Commentary of Carlow V Kerry this Sunday on air and online from 12:50pm with thanks to Dooley Motors Carlow
Click below to hear the Full Interview with Carlow Captain Seamus Murphy