Carlow Senior Hurlers will be looking to atone for last weekend’s disappointing eight point loss to Kerry when they travel to O’Connor Park on Saturday to face an Offaly side, who themselves will be on a redemption mission after an embarrassing double scores scutching at the hands of Westmeath in Round 1.
An astounding figure of 13 first half wides while assisted by a strong wind proved costly for Carlow last weekend, who somehow went in two points down despite having the lions share of possession.
A comedy of errors which led to Kerry’s second goal knocked the life out of Carlow, and the lack of a response was very worrying as Pat English’s charges took the beating without showing any real fight.
There were some positives to take in that Carlow created lots of opportunities, particularly in the first half and accuracy is something that can be brushed up on quite easily.
Richard Kelly was also an absolute revelation for Carlow at midfield. The Mount Leinster Rangers man may not have been the first name on most peoples team sheets, but he took his opportunity with open arms by hurling up a storm over the 70 minutes, while also picking off two points from play.
Offaly will have been hurting deeply after their latest setback to Westmeath and you would have to fear that there might be a serious backlash on the cards come Saturday, however Carlow too will be sore so it promises to be an intruiging encounter which will certainly not be lacking in the physicality stakes.
The loss of Jack Kavanagh through injury is far from ideal, as the St Mullins man was a key reason why Carlow turned their season around during the league with some swashbuckling displays at centre field.
With David English also heading away to the Lebanon with the army, Carlow are down two really important players and in a small county with just 6 senior clubs, lads like those two are simply irreplaceable.
At this stage the panel is quite settled, but I personally believe that Craig Doyle, Mark Brennan, Eddie Byrne and Paudie Kehoe would be serious additions to the squad and I have no doubt that Pat English has tried to get these lads on board, however these are lads that you simply can’t be without, especially with the likes of Jack Kavanagh, Denis Murphy, Eoin Nolan and Shane Kavanagh all nursing injuries.
At the end of the day you can only work with what you have and in fairness the effort put in by this years panel has been superb.
The big question is how will Carlow respond to the task that faces them in Tullamore on Saturday.
If Carlow can do what Westmeath done last week and keep Joe Bergin and Shane Dooley scoreless from play then they could well take this one and although it’s easier said than done, Carlow certainly have the defence to curtail their influence.
The loser will be most likely be staring Christy Ring Cup Hurling in the face for 2017, so the stakes have rarely been higher for Carlow in recent years.
Live Commentary This Saturday
We’ll have full live commentary of Carlow v Offaly in the Leinster Senior Hurling Championship this Saturday, May 7th at O ‘Connor Par,k Tullamore on our Carlow frequency and online on KCLR96fm.com and via the Irish Radioplayer APP from 2.50pm, with thanks to Dooley Motors Carlow, award winning authorised Ford Dealership serving the South East for over 25 years”.