By Kieran Murphy
AFTER defeat to Dublin in the National Hurling League on Sunday, Carlow lie isolated at the bottom of Division 1B without a point to their name.
This was always going to be the most difficult of their five games but at half-time, when they only trailed by four points, there were grounds for optimism. It was misplaced and the players found this out to their cost.
“Dublin are a seasoned team and they have proved it in the last three years,” said full-back Eoin Nolan who has led by example since the start of the year.
“At the same time, we were hoping to put in a good performance. We were disappointed after the first three games and we thought we didn’t do ourselves justice with the results. The performances were probably good. We were hoping to get a result but it didn’t pan out that way.”
With the score 2-5 to 0-7 for Dublin at the interval, both sides had registered seven scores apiece. Crucially, Dublin scored two goals but Nolan knew this was not enough.
“There was a lot of heart shown in that first half. The backs played well and to hold a Dublin forward line who can be hot was no mean achievement,” he said.
He lamented the concession of goals to Kevin Byrne and Niall McMorrow who honed in when Carlow had chances to clear but didn’t.
“At this level, breaks like that are the winning and losing of games. We found it hard to get goals this season but the Dublins of this world are able to manufacture them. We have to learn to do that.”
Now they face Antrim for the third time this year. Former Carlow manager and current Antrim boss Kevin Ryan didn’t read too much into his side’s recent victory over Carlow in Dr Cullen Park.
Nolan agrees and says Carlow must beat the Northerners so that they can learn from their defeats this year.
“Hopefully, if we win the relegation battle against Antrim, we will learn to do that next year.”
Manager John Meyler endorsed Nolan’s sentiments. The look on his face after the game suggested that he would have liked to let rip at elements of Carlow’s performance which must have upset him. He held his counsel.
“It was a good first half and I felt that if we were only three or four points behind at half-time, we would be in the game in the second half. Our second-half performance was flat. Dublin got their scores and the game was over. We face into a relegation match against Antrim and on Tuesday night, we have to get ready and put it right.”
Relegation play-off on the cards for hurlers
By Kieran Murphy