No surprise Bonnar gets best from Carlow
Having watched Colm Bonnar operate successfully at Fitzgibbon Cup level with Waterford IT down through the years, and most recently winning an All-Ireland club title with Ballyhale Shamrocks, it was no surprise to see Carlow saving their best for the big day and taking the Christy Ring Cup on Saturday as they brought the curtain down on a feast of action at Croke Park.
It's great that the so-called weaker counties get their day in the sun and that was a big win for Carlow as they made it fourth-time lucky against Antrim this year. They have some great clubs like Mount Leinster Rangers and St Mullins doing trojan work and it's great to see it pay off. They're fanatical about hurling.
James Doyle scored four goals and might never get them again, but he got them on the day it mattered most. After slipping down from the Leinster round-robin stages last year it's never easy to come straight back up, but they've achieved it.
Bonnar would be very well respected and a shrewd hurling judge. He's a great coach and he has squeezed a lot more out of these guys. He'd know a lot of them from college and playing with IT Carlow.
They're a young side and they wouldn't fear coming up against the best because they've done it at third level. You're mixing it with the top guys, pitting your talents against these so-called 'gods' and it's helped the development of guys like Marty Kavanagh no end.
While it may be second-tier hurling, Carlow will celebrate; that's their All-Ireland and they'll relish a shot at Laois the next day in what will be a 50-50 game.
Derry were expected to beat Armagh and duly obliged, but it's hard on the Orchard men losing the Nicky Rackard Cup final three years in a row. As someone who knows how hard it is to reach the summit, they just need to keep persevering.
Warwickshire looked stronger than Leitrim on paper in the Lory Meagher Cup and so it turned out - with Liam Watson's free-taking, and class when he drifted out the pitch, the difference.
Make no mistake about it, they'll all be as excited with winning their title as Wexford were with winning on Saturday.
It was overshadowed a bit by Wexford and Kilkenny, that's always going to be the way, but with the minor going to U-17 next year, in a glorified juvenile competition, wouldn't it be nice if these fellas got to play before an All-Ireland final or semi-final in Croke Park and sample that special atmosphere.
That's a win-win for all concerned.
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