Hurling

Carlow Hurlers need to tread carefully across the Garden

Carlow's James Doyle in action

Carlow Senior Hurlers are just 70 minutes away from a place in the Christy Ring Cup Final and an appearance at Croke Park.

Standing in their way are a Wicklow side who have taken many by surprise in getting to the last four of the competition.

That of course came about after a shock victory over a full strength Kildare side in Round 2.

Carlow for their part have also defeated Kildare, but having said that the Lilywhites were without the Reidy brothers and John Mulhall who had club committments to tend to.

It’s very hard to read too much into those results, however you would have to say that Wicklow will be well up for this one and with Seamus Murphy and Michael Neary involved you have two men who know Carlow Hurling extremely well after managing club teams in the county down through the years.

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The motivation of getting to Croke Park alone should spur Carlow on but all the pressure is on them to deliver this time and occasionally this season they have failed to deliver in some cases, particularly when games are tight.

So it’s important that Colm Bonnar’s men tread carefully across the ‘Garden County’ and get the job done in a very professional manner, because the likes of Andy O’Brien will punish you if not.

I would personally feel that Carlow must hit Wicklow hard early on the scoreboard and try to blow them out of the water, because the longer Carlow leave them in the game then the more difficult it will be to shrug them off later on.

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A ruthless streak is what this Carlow team needs and a number of leaders need to emerge to drive the whole thing on, because that little bit of passion and leadership has dwindled somewhat over the past couple of years with the retirements and departures of long serving members.

If Carlow get back to Croke Park it will be a huge lift for the county and it’s not too often that this happens, with 2009 the last time a Carlow Hurling team played a Championship game up there.

I do think that Carlow will get the victory here but I would anticipate that they will be made work all the way for it.

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