Carlow hurlers not overawed mixing with Leinster’s big boys

Grace Walsh, Tullaroan GAA Club, Kilkenny, left; Trevor Giles, Skyrne, Meath; and Lauren Magee, Kilmacud Crokes, Dublin, at the launch of the Beko Club Bua programme 2019, the quality mark for Leinster GAA clubs. Picture:Stephen McCarthy

Carlow attacker Marty Kavanagh reckons a single win could be enough to preserve their Leinster SHC status and admitted they’re targeting the Dublin game in particular.

Carlow have made huge strides in recent seasons under Colm Bonnar, winning the Christy Ring and Joe McDonagh Cups in 2017 and 2018 and avoiding relegation from Division 1B of this season’s Allianz league.

Kavanagh, who top scored for Carlow with 0-49 in the league campaign, said they’re looking forward to the Championship.

One win was enough for Dublin to beat the drop last year and Carlow may feel their best chance of staying up this summer is by beating Dublin on June 2 in Carlow.

“Dublin at home is the game you’d look at to get a result but we can’t look past Galway and Kilkenny either, we play those first, because you just don’t know what’s going to happen on the day. Why not try to get a win in those?” said Kavanagh, who admitted they’re targeting their two home games in particular.

“Realistically, our two home games, against Kilkenny and Dublin, we’ll try to get the crowd behind us and hopefully get on top of them and see how it goes. Obviously Galway away is going to be very hard. We played Wexford a few times and always went well enough so we won’t mind going down there.”

Carlow lost to Dublin by 3-15 to 0-18 when they met in Round 1 of the league though followed it up with a shock 0-20 to 0-20 draw with Galway.

They meet Galway again in the Round 1 of the Championship on May 12 in Pearse Stadium and won’t have to face the injured Joe Canning.

“He’s been their main man for the last 10 or 12 years, so it does help us going up there,” said Kavanagh. “It would still be nice if he was playing. He was playing in Carlow in the league game.

“You can look at it two ways - it can be daunting or you can man up. For our lads, they’d look at it as a great task trying to handle him, which isn’t easy.”

Kavanagh said that staying in the MacCarthy Cup proper is Carlow’s big ambition.

“Just to stay up would be the number one objective,” he said. “To be competitive in every game will be a lot of it as well. We’ve some really good hurlers and we’ve got savage belief in the group so we’ll be disappointed if we’re not competitive against any of the teams.

“And if you’re in those games with 15 or 20 minutes to go, you just don’t know what’s going to happen so that’s our objective, to stay up but to be competitive as well.”

Kavanagh admitted that things could be even better for Carlow if all the county’s best players were available.

“We’re competing at a good level but if you wrote down all the names that are good at hurling in the county, they’re not all in there,” he said.

The Leinster GAA Beko Bua programme is in its third year and seeks to reward best practice within clubs across the province.

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