By Kieran Murphy
THE Carlow senior footballers are bracing themselves for the challenge of Leitrim after Monday morning’s draw pitted the two Division 4 counties against each other in round 2B of the All-Ireland qualifiers.
With four teams on each side of the draw, Wexford drew Monaghan and Westmeath were handed a home tie against Armagh. Then came the confirmation of a home draw when Carlow were the fifth name out of the drum followed by Leitrim. Cavan will host Tipperary.
Carlow manager Turlough O’Brien, who had watched his side scrape past the challenge of London in Ruislip on Sunday by 0-13 to 0-12, was happy with the outcome.
“Great to get a home draw,” he told The Nationalist on Monday. “It is a chance to recover after losing to Leitrim in the league up there. There was a lot of talk about losing to London in the league but it was the defeat to Leitrim which killed off our hopes of winning promotion. We were very disappointed leaving Carrick-on-Shannon that day.”
The Connacht side beat London in a preliminary round by three points but were hammered by Roscommon in the Connacht quarter-final by 2-23 to 1-9. Home advantage may well see Carlow going into this game as marginal favourites.
“Both sides will have expectations of beating each other and it will be a great opportunity for each side to advance. We are delighted with the draw,” noted O’Brien, who is hoping for an improvement from the London performance at the weekend.
“We made it hard on ourselves. Maybe we dropped back too deep. Players were nervous and maybe being favourites they felt the pressure. It was a great game to get out of.”
Meanwhile, there was disappointment for the Carlow senior hurlers in Portlaoise when they were narrowly beaten by Laois in an All-Ireland preliminary round qualifier by 2-14 to 1-16. Neil Foyle scored a point in injury time to see the O’Moore men through. Carlow manager Colm Bonnar suggested Laois had the experience which stood to them.
“We’re hugely disappointed. It was a hard game to call.
“The physicality was up there more than what our players would have experienced before. I think that stood to Laois but we tested them in a lot of different ways and I’m very proud of the lads.”