Turlough O’Brien: A Brolly with holes in it isn’t much use

Tyrone 3-14 Carlow 1-10
Carlow manager Turlough O’Brien blasted ‘empty vessel’ pundits and Joe Brolly in particular after their summer of fun finally ended.

The Barrowsiders enjoyed a strong season which included promotion to Division 3 and Leinster championship wins over Louth and Kildare.

But after a decent first 25 minutes against All-Ireland hopefuls Tyrone they were quickly burned off.

It was a meeting of like minds at Netwatch Cullen Park where O’Brien’s 1-13-1 formation, as Brolly labelled it, set up in opposition to Mickey Harte’s counter-attacking Tyrone side.

Playing that way for years, and possessing more quality players, Tyrone ultimately came out on top and held Carlow to just 1-3 from open play.

In points terms, Carlow scored just one from play until the 71st minute having registered a meagre 0-3 from play in the Leinster semi-final defeat to Laois.

But boss O’Brien rejected persistent claims that Carlow are ‘a defensive team’ and took umbrage in particular at Brolly’s description of their play as ‘unwatchable dross’.

O’Brien quipped: “Joe Brolly has had a right pop at Carlow for the last few weeks. There’s a lot of holes in Brolly’s argument — and a Brolly with holes in it isn’t much use.”

Brolly claimed in a newspaper column last weekend that Carlow’s league game with Antrim last March was ‘perhaps the worst non-game of non-sport ever played on these islands’.

And the Sunday Game pundit joked that Carlow moved from a 1-13-1 formation against Laois at Croke Park to a 1-14-0 setup, ‘because Turlough O’Brien and Steven Poacher became worried they were too open at the back’.

O’Brien questioned Brolly’s own record during a brief spell coaching in the inter-county game.

“Joe Brolly was forwards coach with Antrim in 2008, they were in contention for promotion but I think they scored seven points against Waterford, eight points against Tipperary,” said O’Brien.

“They lost out on promotion from Division 4. Under Joe Brolly’s brilliant tutelage! So there you go now.”


“You can tell him that one. In 2007, Waterford beat Carlow in the Tommy Murphy Cup - 8-10 to 0-7 we were beaten. We’re here today playing a top team, we’re promoted to Division 3 and we’re very proud. Look, empty vessels make the most noise. 90 per cent of the coverage that Carlow got has been fantastic, we really appreciated it. The professional journalists, I have to say, have been excellent.”

Tyrone ultimately killed the Round 2 encounter with three second-half goals to advance to this morning’s Round 3 draw.

Peter Harte was terrific for them after missing the Round 1 extra-time epic in Meath due to suspension.

The play-maker set up Niall Sludden for Tyrone’s goal after a brilliant run and then converted a penalty himself.

Richard Donnelly capped a strong game with Tyrone’s third goal in injury-time.

Connor McAliskey carried on from where he left off against Meath too with another impressive display and five points.

O’Brien said it’s good to be mixing it with the top teams after years of early summer exits.

“Over the last two years we’ve played Dublin, Monaghan, Kildare, Louth and now Tyrone,” said O’Brien, who is staying on for 2019. 

“They’re all top teams, Division 1 and 2 teams. We’re coming from the basement, Division 4. Don’t forget that. It’s a big step up and a big step up in Carlow’s fortunes.”


Tyrone are half way towards navigating all four rounds of the qualifiers, like they did in 2013 and 2015.

But question marks remain over their attack with Mark Bradley and Lee Brennan still out injured and unlikely to feature in the Round 3 game next weekend.

“We played well, we created goals and in particular Petey was very instrumental,” said Harte after his 61st Championship win from 91 games.

“Our first goal, it wasn’t a goal when he got the ball, and many a player wouldn’t have been able to make a goal out of it but he did, and that’s what people with a bit of class can do. You won’t always get that but the days when it comes, it’s always good to admire.”

Carlow’s plan seemed to be to run at Tyrone and draw frees for Paul Broderick to convert. Broderick did boot a beauty early on from nearly 55 metres and broke through to set up Darragh O’Brien for a 16th-minute goal.

But the hosts didn’t score again until the 40th minute as they consistently carried the ball into a sea of red and white jerseys and were dispossessed.

Tyrone got on top from late in the first-half and led 0-8 to 1-2 at the break - virtually the same as the 0-8 to 0-5 that Dublin led Carlow by at half-time in last year’s Leinster championship.

“If it was good enough for Dublin at half-time against Carlow, it should be good enough for us too,” said Harte.

“I’d be happy with it overall because there’s no point saying we just wandered down saying, ‘This is a Division 4 team this year playing a Division 1 team, so we’ll just win this game’. We prepared diligently.”

Scorers for Tyrone: R. Donnelly (1-2); P. Harte (1 pen) and N. Sludden (1-1 each); C. McAliskey (0-5, 3 frees); M. Donnelly (0-2); D. McClure, C. Meyler and F. Burns (0-1 each).

Scorers for Carlow: P. Broderick (3 frees) and D. Foley (4 frees) (0-5 each); D. O’Brien (1-0).

TYRONE: N. Morgan; R. Hampsey, R. McNamee, C. McCarron; F. Burns, M. Donnelly (C), M. McKernan; C. Cavanagh, D. McClure; P. Harte, N. Sludden, C. Meyler; C. McShane, R. Donnelly, C. McAliskey.

Subs: R. O’Neill for Sludden, K. McGeary for McAliskey (60); P. McNulty for McShane (62); R. Brennan for McKernan (66); C. McCann for M Donnelly (67); A. McCrory for McCarron (70).

CARLOW: R. Molloy; C. Crowley, S. Redmond, C. Lawlor; C. Moran, D. St Ledger, J. Morrissey; S. Murphy, E. Ruth; S. Gannon, D. Foley, J. Murphy (C); D. Walshe, P. Broderick, D. O’Brien.

Subs: M. Rennick for Walshe (40); B. Kavanagh for Moran (49); B.J. Molloy for Crowley, C. Lawler for J Murphy (55); K. Nolan for Morrissey, L. Walker for O’Brien (60).

Referee: C. Lane (Cork).


Carlow relinquished the momentum they’d built up after a promising first 25 minutes or so when they leaked five scores in a row. They’d led 1-2 to 0-3 but went in at half-time trailing 0-8 to 1-2 and played second fiddle throughout the second-half, conceding three goals.


Carlow scored just 1-6 from play in their last two games of the Championship. It’s an easy stick to beat them with though both Turlough O’Brien and Mickey Harte pointed out that scores from frees count too. “I think it’s a bit of a nonsense to be talking so much about ‘from play’ and ‘from frees’,” said Harte.


 The first ever Championship meeting between Tyrone and Carlow was a novel occasion.

A 6,353 crowd turned up and many stuck around afterwards for photographs with Mickey Harte.

The Tyrone boss, to his credit, obliged them all, even holding a newborn at one stage.


Traditionalists recoiled as two counter-attacking systems squared off. Even some of Carlow’s supporters complained about their team’s endless lateral hand passing as they patiently probed for openings.


Tyrone have Tiernan McCann available for Round 3 after his red card against Meath though Lee Brennan and Mark Bradley are still not fully fit.


 Both teams set up as expected but Tyrone were simply more experienced at implementing a counter-attacking system having won provincial titles that way.


Peter Harte was back after suspension and oozed quality.

Tyrone missed his guile against Meath when they squandered a string of goal chances. He pulled the strings and dictated the play, picking off 1-1 himself including a well-taken penalty.


Conor Lane handled the game well. He dished out seven yellow cards, four to Tyrone and applied the advantage rule well on a number of occasions.


Tyrone will be in this morning’s draw for Round 3 of the qualifiers with those games taking place next weekend. Carlow’s season is over.


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