Kilcormac loss was making of us at Rangers, insists Byrne
On Sunday, Mount Leinster Rangers will face Offaly champions Kilcormac Killoughey in Tullamore but Edward Byrne remembers the Offaly side as the team that helped make them.
Kilcormac beat them in Leinster in 2012 in a tight game and would go all the way to an All-Ireland final. A year later, Mount Leinster Rangers would beat the same path for themselves.
For Byrne, that defeat to Kilcormac opened their eyes to what was possible.
"When we played Kilcormac in 2012 they beat us and we were sitting there watching them the whole way through the championship and we watched them win Leinster and they got to the All-Ireland final too," Byrne recalls.
"That gave us encouragement that we were good enough to do it because the game with Kilcormac was close enough."
To an outsider, it would have been reasonable to expect Rangers to dominate the domestic scene in Carlow after their 2013 win but Byrne insists that doesn't do justice to the strength of the other teams in the county. They lost a county semi-final and two finals before climbing back to the top of the pile this year.
"The testament to (the strength of Carlow hurling) is that when we did win Leinster we didn't win in Carlow for three years after that.
"That tells you club hurling in Carlow is very strong. There are five teams in senior this year and if any one of them hits form at the right time they can go on and win it.
"St Mullins and Myshall have been very good the last couple of years. Bagenalstown are not far off, Ballinkillen didn't have a great year but if they got things together they could push on.
"Any of those teams could do well in Leinster if they get over that first hurdle.
"We find that after winning Carlow, winning the first game in Leinster is nearly the toughest one because you don't know what to expect but you can build momentum after that."
Rangers are up and running in Leinster after seeing off Camross but the six-point winning margins flattered them somewhat.
Rangers looked like they had one foot in the semi-final after the Laois champions were reduced to 14 men.
However, the Carlow men wobbled and only pulled away at the death. And now they have Kilcormac in their sights.
"Offaly are always that step ahead of Carlow at inter-county so that tells its own story so we expect them to be unbelievable on Sunday and it is a home venue too for them so it's all in their favour and we will be underdogs.
"We'll look at them later and see what we can do in our match-ups."