Tuesday 24 October 2017

Ryan hails Fitzpatrick's role in Carlow revival

Cliona Foley

Cliona Foley

Carlow's quiet hurling revolution -- led by players like Ed Coady, John Rogers, Stephen Kavanagh and Andrew Gaule -- can no longer slide under the radar following Sunday's victory over Wexford.

Manager Kevin Ryan is hopeful that the result will attract even more supporters to get behind them when they take on Division 2 table-toppers Clare at Dr Cullen Park this weekend.

"There was a reasonable crowd there for the Wexford game but I'd still be disappointed with it and hope we get even more people behind us," he said.

The significance of Carlow's sensational victory wasn't lost on Waterford native Ryan.

"It's the first time that Carlow have beaten Wexford in senior hurling competition. The players were delighted and the supporters were ecstatic," he added.

"A lot of them either border Wexford or Laois, so beating Wexford was a big deal for them but it was the quality of the performance that really delighted us.

"Wexford went 0-4 to 0-1 up early on but we got it back to level it. They went 0-12 to 0-10 up with 20 minutes left but then we outscored them six points to one and that was probably the most satisfying aspect of the win."

Ryan was at the helm when Carlow retained their place in Division 2 last season and won the Christy Ring Cup for the second season running, but one notable addition to his back-room team, Gerry Fitzpatrick, has also been credited with their continuing progress.

Fitzpatrick, an expert in fitness and sports psychology, was a key member of the Waterford hurling back-room for several years and Ryan pulled off quite a coup by getting him involved this season.

"Momentum played some part on Sunday but we definitely finished stronger than Wexford," said Ryan.

"That's definitely down to Gerry. He really is top-class and I would say there will be few teams that will be fitter than us this year."

After losing to Antrim by just a point, victories over Westmeath, Down and now Wexford have put Carlow joint second in Division 2 with Laois.

But Ryan will not be letting his players lose the run of themselves and has stressed all season that his young side -- which includes nearly a dozen U-21s -- may need another year or two to develop to full strength.

"It's great for us to be able to test ourselves against counties like Wexford and Clare, but it's all the time about getting consistent performances from ourselves and that is what we are concentrating on," he said.

Irish Independent

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