On Sunday Carlow Senior Footballers and Hurlers are both in action with games against London and Westmeath respectively.
Carlow v London NFL Round 2 – Sunday 1pm Netwatch Cullen Park
The Footballers produced a display in which many supporters may not have been expecting last weekend, but those close to the camp would have known that there is something a little bit different about the set up this year.
To hear Turlough O’Brien saying that he was disappointed with just a point against a side who contested the last two Leinster Senior Football Finals speaks volumes of how the mindset has changed this season.
The introduction of Stevie Poacher in a more permanent role has really paid dividends and it was evident last week in their fitness levels, organisation and structure within their play.
When the heat came on last week in the dying moments, previous Carlow teams would have buckled and launched a high ball in around the house.
But this time Carlow carried the ball through the hands, created the opening and of course Shane O’Neill made no mistake with a sublime finish.
What this Sunday’s opponents bring is what many would see as a potential banana skin.
London played in a Connacht Final only a few short years ago and under Ciaran Deely they have a very enthusiastic mentor who played in All Ireland Senior Football Semi Final with Wexford back in 2008.
Last year was a prime example of the grittiness that London bring to the table when they whittled down a 15 point deficit to almost beat Carlow.
Home advantage proved to be a disadvantage last year for Carlow throughout the League but since then they have exorcised those demons.
I would imagine that Carlow will take the points here, and I would like to see Ciaran Moran and O’Neill start this time out after making a difference last week.
We will have Full live Commentary online on KCLRFANZONE.COM with thanks to Flynn’s Carlow Nissan.
Carlow V Westmeath – NHL Round 1 – Sunday 2pm TEG Cusack Park Mullingar
As was the case for the Footballers last week, Carlow Hurlers get their League campaign underway in Mullingar on Sunday.
And also like the Footballers, the Hurlers have a real sense of optimism about them this year under Colm Bonnar.
For the first time for a number of years Carlow have near enough everyone in on the panel who they would want with the obvious exception of one or two.
This year has seen great competition for places in the side and there’s a strength in depth which hasn’t been there for some time.
Since the Walsh Cup, Carlow have had a couple of challenge games, including matches against Meath and Kerry which are always useful exercises.
A few players who have shown up well in particular in those two games are Chris Nolan and Craig Wall.
Nolan is a player of real class and has seamlessly made the transition to Senior Hurling and he has nothing in his head only goal when he gets the ball.
Wall has generally operated around the middle but we could well see him play close to goal this time out where he has been showing good form in recent weeks.
It’s good to see Paul Coady back on board too and he really led the line against UCD and John Michael Nolan is a player that Carlow just can’t be without.
At the start of the year Alan Corcoran and Eddie Byrne were in with Carlow Footballers too, but both have since opted to stick with the hurlers, although ‘Alfie’ has been carrying an injury for some time now.
Westmeath were stripped of a number of key players throughout the Walsh Cup, with the likes of Tommy Doyle – who I think would make any team in the country – Derek McNicholas and a number of others all tied up.
There has been little to separate the two sides over the past decade and I think that will be the case on Sunday as well, but with the enthusiasm in the Carlow set up I’m edging towards Colm Bonnar’s lads.
We will have Full Live Commentary of Carlow v Westmeath in the National Hurling League at 2pm on our Carlow frequency on Sunday with thanks to Rea’s Department Store Bagenalstown Co.Carlow