A major item on Colm Bonnar's CV is his success in bringing Carlow up through the ranks, says Westside
Colm Bonnar cut a satisfying figure after his sides narrow loss to Dublin in extremely windy conditions in FBD Semple Stadium on Saturday.
In a game which was littered with mistakes, stoppages, and back and forth patches of dominance, Bonnar was pleased with his team’s strong finish to the game and believes he is getting plenty from his players at the moment.
“I’m just so proud of the lads they came back so strong in the last ten minutes, they were really driving into them (Dublin),” Bonnar noted. Dublin got their goal in the second half and it looked like at five points up they might push on and see it out, but our lads stuck in and worked hard and we got ourselves back into the game and we had an opportunity to win the game at the end.
“Happy with the effort but obviously not happy with the result. We had a very good start where we found ourselves six points to three up and I felt we just lost our way in terms of what we were trying to do. But Dublin came into it and it was really tit for tat and coming up to half time, there wasn’t much in it.
“I thought we started the second half very well scoring maybe the first four points and we were driving at them but Dublin are a good team. They’re unbeaten since the start of the Walsh Cup; this is the seventh game they’ve played since then so they’re showing the quality they have at the moment.
"They were very good around the breaking ball and they played very good ball all night. Mattie has them very well drilled in terms of what they’re doing and we’re trying to get there too. But for long periods of that fourth quarter I thought we dominated them. We got a bit of energy from the lads coming in from the bench and all we can do is keep doing our best and I think if the lads keep giving me the effort I saw out there today then we’ll be in a good place.
“Sometimes you can’t control everything going on, but once we can control the energy and the intensity we bring to the game that’s the most important thing for me.”
Despite the loss, it was a very beneficial outing against a Dublin team that have set a good early season pace, and with a raft of new faces being made from the Kilkenny game, Bonnar was happy with the run out.
“We have to put it into context as well, we had eight new lads who started the game for us and that’s a huge turnover but we’re delighted we’re able to give opportunities to these players. We’re seeing huge energy at training and we still have more lads to see and that’s what we’re using this league for.
“I think John Mullane said before that if there was a transfer market that one or two of those Dublin players in the fullback line would be looked up by other counties. They were very good at reading the game tonight but I don’t think we did ourselves justice because we can play the ball much better than what we showed and maybe that’s one of the reasons why we fell away at the end of the first half.
“The lads tried to show some bravery in trying to bring the ball through the lines after that though and give the lads inside a better chance but overall, 21 points in the conditions is a lot of scoring,” he said.
Next weekend poses a big challenge for Tipp as they face Waterford in what is essentially a league semi-final playoff with the make up of the table, and Bonnar acknowledged the importance of the fixture to him and his players.
“We haven’t talked about where we finish (league campaign). We want to see different players in these games and you can see the mix we’ve had so far between young and old and we’re just trying to get the balance right, trying to get games into lads.
“Yes, we wanted to be very competitive and we want to be getting over the finishing line first in games, but we also want the team to show bravery and fighting spirit. Waterford is a big, big game for us, and regardless of whether we are in the league mix up it was always going to be big because we’re playing them in the championship in six weeks time so there’s a lot for us to work on,” he finished.
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