The time has come for Carlow to lock horns with Antrim for the 4th competitive time this season and this time it’s on the biggest platform of all – Croke Park.
This game is of huge importance to both counties as it ensures Liam McCarthy Cup Hurling, with the winners going on to play Laois on the weekend of the 24th June in the All Ireland Qualifiers.
Carlow have yet to beat Antrim this year and Manager Colm Bonnar says that it’s down to Antrim’s never say die attitude.
Speaking to KCLR ahead of the showdown, Colm says they are well of capable of matching the Northern men and reversing the trend.
“Antrim to be fair are a very composed team, they have got very good hurlers all over the pitch, and they keep coming at us and coming back at us.
“We had 4 points up with maybe 4 minutes to go of normal time and in extra-time (in the Christy Ring 1st round meeting), we went another 4 points up at the start of the 2nd half of injury-time, but just couldn’t hold out.
“A lot of that has to do with Antrim and their ability to keep coming back and the belief that they have in their hurling but our lads know that they are well capable of matching them.
“Anything that Antrim throw at us, we can throw back at them so I think its going to be a hell of a game and I just hope this time we will be on the right side of the scoreline,” Bonnar said.
For me, Carlow have a mental hurdle to jump here because the facts are the facts at the end of the day and Carlow have yet to beat them.
However, that can only serve as extra motivation for Saturday and that’s something that they should not be lacking regardless because at the end of the day it is an All Ireland Final.
I think that Carlow will enjoy the wide open spaces of Croke Park a little bit more than Antrim.
The Saffrons are big down the middle and particularly in the back line so Carlow can definitely use this to their advantage as they have plenty of pace in their line up.
It’s a really tough team to pick and I wouldn’t like to be in Colm Bonnar’s shoes for this one.
It’s reported that Seamus Murphy could well be back in contention for this one as well and his aerial prowess and power would be another huge addition.
It’s a very encouraging and positive time for Carlow GAA over the past few weeks and months and these vibes will surely filter through to the lads themselves.
The one other thing I would hope is that the officials allow the game to flow in order for both teams to showcase their skills on the big stage and if they do then we are in for a cracker here.
In all my preview’s of Carlow v Antrim games this year I have said that there is scarcely a puck of a ball between these two teams and once again I think this will be the case on Saturday.
I have a slight fancy for Carlow this time out however and I think they might finally get over the line and erase the nightmares of this season and indeed the 2006 Final at the same venue!