This Sunday Carlow makes the trip to Croke Park to contest the Joe McDonagh Cup final for the first time since 2018.
🏆 Joe McDonagh Cup Final:— Carlow GAA (@Carlow_GAA) May 23, 2023
🥎@Carlow_GAA V @Offaly_GAA
⏰Sat, 27 May, 4.45pm
🙏Big support needed in Croke Park on Saturday.
🎟️Get tickets at https://t.co/b25i2psJ7E
– SuperValu Tullow, B'town & Sandhills Carlow
– Centra Ballon, Borris & Potato Mkt Carlow
Of course, that was the inaugural year of the competition that ended with Richard Coady and Diarmuid Byrne captaining the Barrowsiders to victory. They beat Westmeath by five points on the day, to cap off a special moment in Carlow hurling history.
Their opponents Offaly have so far failed to reach the summit, and are appearing in their first-ever final, with The Faithful County riding a crest of a wave the last few years. Carlow did manage to beat Offaly in the final game of the group stages to secure their spot in GAA HQ, however, Offaly had already cemented their spot in the final and decided to change up their squad for the tie. Speaking to KCLR Scoreline after the game Fiachra Fitzpatrick of Mount Leinster Rangers said irrespective of what team Offaly put out, Carlow still had a job to do and is delighted to making his first appearance in Croke Park;
See also: Carlow put 1-29 past Offaly to book place in 2023 Joe McDonagh Cup Final
“With Offaly being in the final, there was a lot of talk about who they would put out. We just had to focus, we did our part, all you can do is beat what is in front of you, and that’s what we did. Happy, now we are unbeaten, I am relishing it.”
“We probably felt we should have won in Kerry, and then we were lucky to draw with Laois in Carlow.”
“Last year, we beat Offaly in Offaly, and Antrim let us down losing to Kerry. You could say the same this year, we beat Offaly but Laois was unlucky despite beating Kerry. We are just delighted with the way things worked out.”
The Joe McDonagh Cup winners and runners-up qualify for the subsequent All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship at the preliminary quarter-final stage. So regardless of the winner, this is not a one-and-done situation and the promise of an All-Ireland bow only adds to the allure of the Joe Mac according to Fitzpatrick;
“It is a great competition, coming into the last day, there were four teams that could have got to the final.”
“It is really good quality, it gives lads like us opportunities who are often referred to as underdogs. Then with the All Ireland prelims in three weeks’ time, we are just delighted.”
See also: “We do not fear anybody” Jack Kavanagh looks at Joe McDonagh Cup final and beyond
Carlow and Offaly will be live on KCLR this Saturday from 4.45 pm with thanks to Ray Whelan Waste management with full pre-match analysis beginning at 4.15 pm thanks to Teach Dolmain.
You can listen back to the full interview with Fiachra along with the likes of Marty Kavanagh, James Doyle, Chris Nolan & more on Scoreline Extra below: