Tomorrow’s Carlow Senior Football Championship semi-final between Rathvilly and Bagenalstown Gaels will be “extremely tight” according to Rathvilly manager Pat Ryan.
The two teams will go head-to-head at 1.30pm in Netwatch Cullen Park on Sunday for a place in the final and Ryan did not downplay the challenge ahead of his side when he spoke to KCLR’s Scoreline.
He said: “We know how tough a challenge Bagenalstown Gaels will be, but we feel as though we are ready for the game.
“The players have worked hard to get here and I’m sure they won’t want to let it pass them by.”
Ryan called on his experienced players who were involved in their last county final victory seven years ago to grasp the opportunity in front of them.
“You can’t beat experience and knowledge in a big game like a semi-final. It’s been seven years since we won the county championship and a lot of the young boys that day are now grown-up men who are ready to win.
“We’ll be calling on all of our experienced players to lead the charge tomorrow.”
Ryan is adamant that they can use the disappointment of last year’s final defeat to four-in-a-row champions Eire Og as a motivational tool for the remainder of the championship, starting with Sunday’s semi-final.
“We learned a lot from that final last year with Eire Og. It was a tough one to take but we have used that as a motivational factor since that defeat.
“We don’t just want to make the final, we want to go on and win the county championship and as a management team we are pleased that we are on the right track.”
He also touched on the importance of as close to a capacity crowd as possible being present in Netwatch Cullen Park for the first time in 18 months.
“It’s great to hear the roar of the crowd and it brings a huge atmosphere to the occasion.
“Tomorrow is a huge occasion for not just the four teams involved but also the communities and it’s so important to have them back.
“It brings normality back to the players to see them in the stands and they were sorely missed when they were not allowed to attend the games.”