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Carlow hurling manager Colm Bonnar.

Carlow hurling manager Colm Bonnar.

Colm Bonnar: ‘What a way to do it’

By William Dunne

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After two defeats and a draw with Antrim in 2017, Carlow finally beat the Saffrons at Croke Park to be crowned Christy Ring champions.

James Doyle scored four goals in a 5-23 to 4-15 victory for Colm Bonnar’s men, who now advance into the All-Ireland hurling qualifiers.

Doyle snatched a first-half hat-trick as Carlow went in with a 12 point cushion as the interval, but Bonnar knew that when playing Antrim, you can never be too safe.

“Yeah look, there was massive pressure on us”, said Bonnar shortly after the victory.

“Antrim had turned us over a few times, well we couldn’t get to the pitch of the games a few times, but you know we saved our best hurling here for Croke Park. What a way to do it.

“We knew we could out score Antrim in terms of goals and we decided to we needed to take them on and once we kept in front of them on the goal front I felt that we could do enough.”

There was no doubt as to who was man-of-the-match with Doyle finishing with 4-1. Bonnar admitted that he didn’t expect such a contribution from any of his players and even though Carlow were heading for victory, he remained anxious over Antrim’s resilience.

“I didn’t think James Doyle would come in with four goals, but well, he was exceptional.

“We had Antrim on the rack once or twice and we just couldn’t put them away and fair play to Antrim they started a bit of a comeback in the second half as well they got a goal from the 21 and I was saying ‘here we go again.’

“I was nervous. I was nervous until maybe five minutes to go because just what Antrim have done over the past number of games.

“They just kept coming back and coming back and to be fair that’s great credit to them, but we knew that we would have to be seven or eight points ahead to actually get ourselves over the line.

“Even if it wasn’t a Christy Ring final, we needed to kind of show that we could beat Antrim because if they have beat us at the fourth attempt again it would be very hard for this group to excel.”

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