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HOW THE MIGHTY MINNOWS HURLED: Leo McGough takes a detailed look at the Carlow side that drew with Kilkenny in the Leinster Senior Hurling Championship

Leo McGough
May 13, 2024

Meet the Mighty Minnows, read how the played, how many games they’ve played and learn of their inter-county minor and U-21 pedigree.

BRIAN TRACEY (Naomh Eoin, Myshall) 

Appearances: 92 {SHC: 38; NHL: 37; CUP: 17}

County Minor: 2010/2011: County U-21: 2012/2013/2014

Two brave saves, one in either half, kept Carlow in the game, nothing he could do for the ball that beat him, Brian’s long puck outs with the wind in the first half didn’t reap the hoped for rewards but as many as five of his short, well timed puck-outs in the second half helped source Carlow scores. 

Paul Doyle (St Mullins) 

Appearances: 104 {SHC: 41 ; NHL: 46: CUP:17}

County Minor: 2011: County U-21: 2013/2014

Strong on the ball, Paul powered out of defence a couple of times, astute clearances, dependable and disciplined in the tackle, a sound performance. 

Dion Wall (Ballinkillen)

Appearances: 30 {SHC: 10; NHL: 11; CUP: 9}

County Minor: 2012/2013: County U-21: 2013/2014/2015/2016

An assured presence in the No 3 jersey, a cultured hurler, his cool head chose to go diagonal at the death rather than lorry the ball down on goal where Kilkenny had plenty of bodies. Hurled a fine ‘most’, most if which also involved ‘minding’ TJ Reid, the highest championship scorer of all time.

Niall Bolger (Bagenasltown Gaels)

Appearances: 22 {SHC: 8; NHL: 9; CUP: 5}

County Minor: 2018/2019: County U-20/21: 2020/2021/2022

Defended well throughout, snapped up a few breaks and used the ball well each time, a fine long delivery of his late in the game was the ‘assist’ to a precious point. 

Tony Lawlor (Mount Leinster Rangers)

Appearances: 30 {SHC: 7; NHL: 17; CUP: 6}

County Minor: 2016/2017: County U-21: 2019

Stood tall, literally, on the half back line, tackled tenaciously, struck more than his share of ball, a crisp striker, three of those strikes were the source of three priceless points. 

Kevin McDonald (Mount Leinster Rangers) 

Appearances: 106 {SHC: 40; NHL: 45; CUP: 21}

County Minor: 2014/2015: County U-21: 2014/2015/2016/2017/2018

Talk about a team captain leading by example, ‘Mac’ was magnificent at the heart of the Carlow defence, one high catch in the second half among the highlights of a performance which saw Kevin play the sweeper role to perfection, dropping deeper in the second half from where he availed of loose Kilkenny deliveries and short Carlow puck-outs. His use of possession was superb, six Carlow scores sourced from either his long clearances out of hand or his sweetly taken side-line cuts.

Sean Joyce (Mount Leinster Rangers)

Appearances: 9 {SHC: 1;  NHL: 4; CUP: 4)

County Minor: 2019; County U-20/21: 2022

Trusted with a first ever championship start Sean worked hard and kept to the game plan for the opening 35 minutes before making way for a tactical change at half-time.

Jack McCullagh (Bagenalstown Gaels)

Appearances: 43 {SHC: 17;  NHL: 19 CUP: 7)

County Minor: 2019; County U-20/21:2020/2021/2022

Probably the most important flick of the wrist in Carlow hurling history belongs to Jack, who having broke down a Kilkenny puck-out followed up with intent to get his stick to the ground ball and steer it to Fiachra Fitz, the subsequent sequence of events leading to the Carlow goal. Did a lot more besides and two further scores were sourced from useful balls of his.

Richie Coady (Mount Leinster Rangers)

Appearances: 185 {SHC: 67;  NHL: 81; CUP: 37)

County Minor: 2006; County U-21: 2007/2008/2009

A veteran of 185 inter-county senior hurling battles and still at 36 years of age handed a mid-field role, Richie brought his experience to bear in the first half, a shimmy and slick stick-pass leading to one point, a pop-pass sourcing another. Remained busy until making way for fresh legs.

Fiachra Fitzpatrick (Mount Leinster Rangers) 

Appearances: 37 {SHC: 15; NHL: 15; CUP: 7}

County Minor: 2019; County U-21: 2020/2021/2022

A point in each half, a fantastic stick pass on the lead up to another point and the astute long low delivery that helped create the goal, just the highlights of an industrious performance from Carlow’s utility operator.

Jon Nolan (Mount Leinster Rangers)

Appearances: 57 {SHC: 22;  NHL: 26; CUP: 9)

County Minor: 2016/2017; County U-20/21: 2018/2019

Worked extremely hard, covered a lot of ground, dropped deep to help the defensive structure, one such case when he won a ball in the half back line in the second half and embarked on a run which drew a foul which yielded a long range point for Kevin Mac.

Chris Nolan (Mount Leinster Rangers)

Appearances: 95 {SHC: 38;  NHL: 41 CUP: 16)

County Minor: 2014/2015/2016; County U-21: 2015/-/2017/2018

Four superb points from play, scores of the highest quality, a few wides too, one of which if had gone over would have been the score of the day, Chris having made a mighty run down the stand sideline. Worked very hard too, his tackling back and willingness to prevent clearances a huge help to the cause.

Marty Kavanagh (St Mullins)

Appearances: 126 {SHC: 42;  NHL: 66 CUP: 18)

County Minor: 2011/2012; County U-21: 2012/2013/2014/2015

Nerves of steel to nail that late, late levelling free, especially as he had missed a couple he’d normally score. 0-9 to add to his huge inter-county tally, all from placed balls, but it was an ‘assist’ which after the equaliser was the Mouses’ biggest contribution after the equaliser, that pop quick pass that fashioned the opening for the oh so important goal.

John Michael Nolan (Naomh Eoin)

Appearances: 112 {SHC: 45;  NHL: 55 CUP: 12)

County Minor: 2008/2009; County U-21: 2012/2013

Shot one typical over the shoulder point and it was his persistence that worried Eoin Murphy into conceding a ’65’ that Mouse converted just before half-time. Worked hard before making way at the interval to facilitate a tactical change.

Scott Treacy (Naomh Eoin) 

Appearances: 8 {SHC: 1;  NHL: 3 CUP: 4)

County Minor: 2009; County U-20/21: 2020/2021

Another man trusted with a first championship start, almost repaid that trust with a goal, cutting in menacingly just before half-time, unfortunate the ball bobbled loose as he was getting ready to pull the trigger but the ’65’ that ensued was converted. Made way at half-time for a tactical change.

Ciarán Whelan (Ballinkillen) 

Appearances: 16 {SHC: 3;  NHL: 5 CUP: 8)

County Minor: 2017; County U-20/21: 2018/2019

Came on for the second half and immediately became central to the midfield action, working hard and getting on a good bit of ball, using it well.

Conor Kehoe (St Mullins) 

Appearances: 31 {SHC: 11;  NHL: 11 CUP: 9)

County Minor: 2018/2019; County U-21: 2020/2021/2022

Came on for the second half. His goal will live in Carlow hurling folklore for ever, footage guaranteed to feature ‘Reeling in the Carlow Years’ in the distant future. Not only did Conor raise the green flag, it was his searing run created the goal too, his alertness allowing him to finish the rebound from Paddy Boland’s blocked shot.

Paddy Boland (St Mullins)

Appearances: 21 {SHC: 10;  NHL: 6; CUP: 5)

County Minor: - County U-21: -

The only man of the 20 who saw action who didn’t play minor or U-20/21 with Carlow but has taken to senior ranks as to the manor born, following up last year’s high catching, high scoring exploits with more attacking panache, scoring a rousing point, winning a free that was converted and in general keeping the Kilkenny defenders busy.

James Doyle (St Mullins)

Appearances: 83 {SHC: 37;  NHL: 35 CUP: 10)

County Minor: 2012/2013; County U-21: 2013/2014/2015/2016

Craft and graft combined when he used his skill and strength to rise a ground ball and fling a hand pass to Donagh Murphy for a point and then a high catch over Huw Lawlor and quick pivot yielded James an inspirational point. Injury may have curtailed his championship campaign to date but this cameo was invaluable.

Donagh Murphy (Mount Leinster Rangers)

Appearances: 4 {SHC: 1;  NHL: 1 CUP: 2)

County Minor: 2020/2021; County U-20/21: 2022/2023/2024

From schoolboy hurler to inter-county star in a little over 12 months. Donagh won All_Ireland colleges honours with St Kieran’s last year, came on here for his first championship appearance, just his fourth in all (all as a sub) and with his first puck he scores a point and then chases down the delivery that won the line-ball that led to the levelling free. A good day’s work.