Carlow midfielder Brendan Murphy is excited about facing the ‘greatest team he has ever seen’ after Sunday’s win over Wexford qualified them for the Leinstern SFC quarter-final with All-Ireland champions Dublin in a fortnight.
Murphy (28) fired a late goal for Carlow and put in a masterful performance at midfield on the way to the county’s first provincial win since 2011, but with the double All-Ireland champions and six-in-a-row Leinster winners next up, it is a daunting task for Turlough O’Brien’s side.
The full-time whistle was greeted with joyous celebrations at Dr Cullen Park on Sunday as Carlow secured a first win over Wexford since 1996. And despite having to concede home advantage and play the Dubs in Portlaoise, Murphy is relishing the opportunity.
“Any day you wear the Carlow shirt is a good day,” said Murphy. “But it’s nice to get the win here in front of our people. We were written off a lot but we fought through and won. It’s great, it’s great for the people of Carlow that have been following the team for years.”
It’s 73 years since Carlow claimed their only Leinster senior football title, and that 2-6 to 1-6 win over their next opponent, Dublin, was the greatest day in the county’s GAA history.
But with Jim Gavin’s much-decorated side set for a rare foray out of Croke Park, a win on Sunday week would arguably trump that 1944 victory.
“Dublin are the greatest team that I’ve ever seen play the game,” said Murphy. “We are going to enjoy the build-up, we are going to enjoy the crowd, exposure. If we can just learn something from Dublin in two weeks’ time and take that forward.”
Their win over Seamus McEnaney’s side was far from a shock considering two Division 4 teams were facing each other and that Carlow had already beaten Wexford by ten points as recently as April 2, but even with home advantage Carlow were regarded as outsiders. Murphy has tasted plenty of tough days in the Leinster championship — Sunday was just his second provincial win in his eight-year career — and the former International Rules representative hopes they can continue to improve for the remainder of the summer.
“You would be hoping you would (keep improving), but at the same time the group here are so closely knit,” said the Rathvilly club man.
“We probably don’t get the credit that we deserve but that comes with wins so you have to earn it. But we are trying to make strides. We are trying to lead Carlow football into a better place.”
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