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Turlough O'Brien: 'We were confident we would deal with the loss of Brendan Murphy'

The Carlow manager was thrilled with his team’s performance against Louth yesterday.

Kevin O’Brien reports from O’Moore Park, Portlaoise

THE NEWS THAT Brendan Murphy would be spending the summer kicking ball in Boston rather than Dr Cullen Park meant that few expected Carlow to enjoy the sort of form this summer like they did in 2017.

But underdogs Carlow blew Louth away by 11 points in the opening round of the Leinster SFC with an ambitious, organised and spirited performance.

Turlough O'Brien Source: Lorraine O'Sullivan/INPHO

Carlow manager Turlough O’Brien admitted after the game he had no concerns that Murphy’s decision to leave the squad would derail their season.

“We have a lot of options there in the middle third of the pitch, we’ve a lot of big players who can play ball and we were confident we would deal with the loss of Brendan,” he said.

“I think there’s too much made of a team losing a player. We won seven games last year, Brendan wasn’t playing in four of them. Any team can do with the loss of one player.

“Someone will step up to the mark. I thought our midfield performance today from the two lads was absolutely outstanding. Sean Murphy and Eoin Ruth dominated midfield.”

In the last meeting between these sides in 2016, Louth handed out a 2-24 to 3-11 beating to the Barrowsiders, making it a 21-point turnaround in just two years.

Paul Broderick celebrates after scoring a goal Source: Lorraine O'Sullivan/INPHO

Pete McGrath’s side couldn’t break Carlow down yesterday for long spells and were defensively naive as they continued to foul their opponents inside the scoring zone in the second-half.

“We were confident,” O’Brien went on. “Our first-half performance was good. We had ten points on the board and we had seven wides.

“So we had dominated possession, we made mistakes in the first-half – we had some wild shooting maybe – but we addressed that at half-time and we pushed on then. I thought we stuck to our gameplan very, very well. We worked our scoring opportunities patiently and we opened them up.

“I think the team’s in a different place (from 2016),” O’Brien continued. “I think the two teams are in different places, they’ve lost a lot of players to be fair to them where we have retained the bulk of our panel for the last three years. And I think we’ve shown here today that we are.

“We’re heading for the Super 8s, lads!” he quipped.

A scuffle breaks out near the end of the game Source: Lorraine O'Sullivan/INPHO

Before they can start dreaming of the Super 8s, Carlow must focus on Kildare in the quarter-final on 27 May. They’ll provide a stern test for the Lilywhites – Cian O’Neill’s team haven’t won a competitive game since last year’s Leinster semi-final.

With the winners of Laois and Westmeath awaiting Carlow in the last four if they can stun Kildare, making a provincial final against Dublin is not an unrealistic ambition.

“It’s a big strong physical team. We have a lot of attributes there for championship football.

“We’re in a great place. We’re very, very happy now and we’re looking forward to Kildare in the next round,” O’Brien concluded.

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Kevin O'Brien

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