Last Sunday’s Leinster Semi Final defeat to Laois was a tough one to take for Carlow.
The excitement in the build up to the game was like nothing I’ve seen before in the county and most felt that this was Carlow’s time.
Unfortunately things didn’t work out on the day.
Chances weren’t taken, particularly in the second half and if you don’t take your opportunities then more often than not you will end up second best.
Laois to their credit had their homework done.
They are well coached, organised, they have strength in depth and they are also very street wise when it comes to keeping key players quiet.
It may not always be within the letter of the law but you do what you’ve gotta do to win and it’s up to the officials to deal with everything else.
There were many elements of Carlow’s game that were quite good but the end product simply wasn’t up to scratch.
The torment of losing to the near neighbours once again was unbearable given how much was at stake this time and I can’t imagine how the players were feeling themselves.
But here’s an example of the change in mindset.
Talking to some of the guys after the game, they said they would love to draw the likes of Mayo or Tyrone in the qualifiers.
Now if that had of been said 3 or 4 years ago you would have thought they were crazy!
But now the players and management have a genuine belief that they can trouble the likes of these teams in Netwatch Cullen Park and the evidence of that was the Monaghan game last year.
In previous times you would be hoping for weaker opposition to try and find a handy way into the next round.
This has now changed and for me personally that’s a sign of how far things have come in recent years.
The cynics out there will suggest “oh well if Carlow couldn’t beat Laois who are at their own level how can they beat the likes of Tyrone or Mayo?”
Well guess what, it’s been done before on multiple occasions and if you believe it and apply yourself correctly to the game plan then these sort of things can very quickly become a reality.
As for Laois, well I think they have a psychological edge over Carlow and until Carlow finally beat them then that theory will be always be put out there.
At the end of the day Laois will always believe that they are going to beat Carlow because they always have over the last thirty years and no matter how weaker or stronger they are, they still believe this and for me that’s a big reason why they defeated them again.
And this may seem crazy but I think that particular state of mind simply isn’t there when Carlow footballers are playing teams ranked higher than them.
I believe Carlow can take Tyrone the distance, I really do and the general vibe from the players and Management is of a similar sentiment.
It may have taken a few days to get over the hurt of losing to Laois but now the excitement and anticipation is beginning to build again ahead of Saturday week.
Netwatch Cullen Park will be hopping!