Pragmatism is the name of the game for Carlow this Saturday and forward Eoghan Ruth says the priority is to produce enough of a performance to provide a platform for the qualifiers.
Ruth is a realist, Dublin are all but certain to progress, but if Carlow can’t win in Portlaoise then they have to endeavour to do everything else in order to keep their championship interests strong.
“Is there an edge you can take?” Ruth asks rhetorically when questioned if Dublin are beyond analysis. “I don’t think so. Teams try it on, don’t they? You look at the last few years, people trying different things. The only thing that sprung to mind is Donegal when they beat them but I don’t think we’re going to spring the surprise on them.
“Isn’t the Mike Tyson saying that you can plan all you want until you get a punch in the face? Our plan is just to keep tight.
“It would be great if we could keep the score flowing and make sure the game isn’t over early and see from there. Make sure the morale after the game is good. It doesn’t matter what sort of a result but we want to go into the qualifiers winning a few games so we want to keep it together and make sure we’re still in a good place after the (Dublin) game.”
Ensuring they aren’t daunted by the occasion or the opposition will be key for Turlough O’Brien’s side but all the sounds from them at last Friday’s press evening exuded positivity.
“You’re not going to stand off them,” says Ruth. “You’re not going to pay them any respect in those terms. They’re humans. I’m sure they hurt as well if you hit them with a shoulder. I’m sure they’re not going to catch every ball.
“We’ll probably live off scraps but physically we’re going to compete with them. I’m sure we will win some small battles here and there.”
O’Moore Park is a tight pitch which may play into Carlow’s hands slightly as they are a physically imposing side, reminiscent to Cork’s 2010 All-Ireland winners at least in stature. Ruth, himself around the 6ft4in mark, knows it’s an area where they can put it up to Dublin but he appreciates there’s more to the All-Ireland champions than just size.
“Individually, we could have a few lads that would match the Dubs for physicality. That has to help. I’ve watched the Dubs but I’m not too sure if they have actually bullied teams down through the years to get wins. They just have the footballers, they have the runners. The way they play the game, they have it down to a tee. There are lads here in great shape, there are lads playing inter-county a long time and in great condition.”
Yet it wasn’t for a game like this the Éire Óg man has remained steadfast in his commitment to Carlow.
“I think James Horan said it’s made out inter-county football is a chore but I wouldn’t be doing if I didn’t enjoy it. I love playing for Carlow. I like training, I like the structure, I like everything from the diet to the gym work. I like pushing myself.
“It wasn’t a case of ‘right, we’ll get a day in the spotlight someday’. It was ‘here, we’ll get a day like we did against Wexford, a team that we’ll get the better off on the day and it will be a great occasion’. Because, you know, what’s rare is wonderful and now it’s about getting to another level.”
I love playing for Carlow. I like training, I like the structure, I like everything from the diet to the gym work. I like pushing myself
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