Bonnar keen for Carlow to avoid one-hit wonder tag and back up valiant defeat to Galway
Galway 1-24 Carlow 1-18
IT wasn't the expected script as Carlow forced reigning Leinster champions Galway to dig deep in Salthill, and Colm Bonnar is expecting a few more surprises from the Barrowsiders.
The early exchanges were tight, but when the Tribesmen put the foot on the throttle to grab a six-point half-time lead, 0-14 to 0-8, it was anticipated that they would coast home with little trouble.
Conor Cooney's goal 30 seconds into the second-half looked to signal a comfortable victory for the home side, but Marty Kavanagh and Chris Nolan refused to let Carlow wilt.
Nolan quickly responded with a goal, while Kavanagh was imperious off a limited supply, but try as they might they were unable to cut the gap to less than three points, as Conor Whelan finished with a flourish to help steer Galway home.
Bonnar was left full of optimism, however, and he has no intention of letting his side become the whipping boys of Leinster.
"The real character showed through when they got their goal and put nine points in it. People thought 'here we go, this is only going one way', but we dug in deep and we got ourselves back into the game big time," Bonnar said.
"We battled with them score for score and every time we got it to three points, we needed to get one more score to bring it to two. I felt if we did, it might have just created a bit of doubt in Galway and give us the momentum to do something special.
"We don't know where the ceiling with this team is. We can't be one-hit wonders in terms of putting up a performance. We really want to make a mark. It's not a case of coming to make up numbers.
"There's more in us. We didn't go out with a sweeper or seven defenders or eight defenders, we went out to hurl as much as we could and try to play our system so we have to give credit to the lads too, they have no interest in that."
For all Carlow's deserved plaudits, there are question marks hanging over Micheál Donoghue's Galway after an unsatisfactory display.
Joe Canning's absence left some gaping holes up front, with Whelan and Conor Cooney left to do the heavy lifting and they are crying out for Johnny Glynn and Joseph Cooney to bolster their attack.
Dáithí Burke (broken toe) was sorely missed in an inexperienced full-back line which was exposed on a number of occasions, but with two weeks until their next game, the four-time All-Star is expected to return when Wexford come to Pearse Stadium on May 26.
On the positive side, Colm Callanan made his first Championship start since the 2017 All-Ireland final win, while the Mannion brothers - Pádraic and Cathal - have continued where they left off at the end of the League.
Scoring efficiency and decision-making were the key "workings" which Donoghue identified from the close call and he expects them to be at a different level the next day, with summer cobwebs blown way.
"It's two points on the board now and we go away obviously with workings. But similar to every other game, we keep saying the next one is the most important one," he said.
"I suppose we're fortunate the way it's fallen for us (with a two-week break). But you know, we'll take away a lot of learnings. We still have a lot of work to do and a lot to build on for two weeks.
"We're well accustomed to playing Wexford, so they'll come and they'll bring a massive intensity to the game, like they always do, and we know that's going to be a huge challenge. It's going to be another huge task, but right now we'll just keep the head down in training and look forward to it."
SCORERS - Galway: C Cooney 1-3, N Burke 0-6 (6f), C Whelan 0-4, C Mannion, J Flynn 0-3 each, B Concannon, D Glennon, D Burke, J Grealish, P Mannion 0-1 each.
Carlow: M Kavanagh 0-11 (6f), C Nolan 1-2, S Murphy 0-2, J Doyle, JM Nolan, J Kavanagh 0-1 each.
GALWAY - C Callanan 6; J Grealish 7, R Burke 6, A Harte 7; P Mannion 7, G McInerney 6, K Hussey 6; C Mannion 7, David Burke 6; N Burke 5, J Flynn 7, B Concannon 6; C Whelan 8, C Cooney 8, D Glennon 6. Subs: J Coen 6 for Glennon (50), P Killeen 7 for R Burke and J Hanbury 6 for Hussey (both 54), S Loftus for Grealish (68).
CARLOW - B Tracey 7; K McDonald 7, P Doyle 6, M Doyle 6; E Nolan 7, D English 7, R Coady 7; J Kavanagh 7, S Whelan 6; JM Nolan 7, J Doyle 6, E Byrne 6; M Kavanagh 9, S Murphy 7, C Nolan 8. Subs: D Byrne for Whelan (51), T Joyce for JM Nolan (63), R Smithers for J Kavanagh (66), Jon Nolan for E Byrne (68).
REF - C Lyons (Cork).