Carew hails record-breaker Darragh Foley
By John Harrington
Carlow football manager Niall Carew has hailed inspirational captain Darragh Foley’s record-breaking exploits.
Kilbride clubman, Foley, became the county’s highest ever scorer during this year’s Tailteann Cup campaign.
He surpassed previous record-holder Brendan Hayden in Carlow’s win over Wicklow on May 14, and his eight-point haul against Longford last week means he has now scored 10-376 in 152 games for the Barrow-siders.
“He's unbelievable,” says Carew. “He's so inspirational for his team-mates both on and off the field. He sets the tone for everyone else. He's just a top, top player.
“He's played every minute for me this year, I don't think he was taken off in any game and that includes the O'Byrne Cup. He's been unbelievable.
“He really minds himself well. Just really professional and a great ambassador for younger players coming into our squad and we've plenty of them. When they look at Darragh they see what it takes to perform at a very high level.
“I'm delighted he's broken the record but knowing Darragh he cares a lot more about Carlow going further in this competition than breaking any personal records.”
Foley has played a big role in Carlow’s progression to Saturday’s Tailteann Cup preliminary quarter-final against New York.
The outsiders in a group also containing Limerick, Wicklow, and Longford, not many people were tipping Carlow to make it this far after a disappointing League campaign and early exit from the Leinster championship at the hands of Wicklow.
Instead their young team grasped the challenge and won two of their three games to seal a home tie against New York.
“I suppose we felt that we were getting closer in the League,” says Carew. “A few defeats by a few points here and there. We always seemed to be missing one or two key players for our games.
“The only one we were missing the last day was Seanie Bambrick, and when you have everyone back you can really go at it. We're very pleased, it's where we want to be.
“Everyone would have touted us to be the first team out, but instead we finished joint top and just lost out on the head to head with Limerick.
"A summer of football like this will bring us on as a team. The hard ground probably suits us better as well.
“It’s very satisfying, and this is why you do it, for days like beating Wicklow in Aughrim in the first round of the Tailteann Cup. We learned a lot from the Limerick game, probably learned more from that game than any other game we played this year.
“Then we put those lessons into practice against Longford and got the result to go with it, so, yeah, it's very satisfying.
“It rewards you, the backroom team, and all the players for everything you put into it. There's been a huge effort from everyone and I'm very lucky to have people working very hard in that backroom team.
“I have people working with me who believe in the lads as well and that's very important. When lots of people weren't believing in them the backroom team did. So it's very satisfying.”
On the back of their impressive group form, Carlow will now be favourites to beat a New York team that hasn’t seen action since their 16-point defeat to Sligo in the Connacht semi-final on April 22.
Carew is nevertheless wary of the challenge posed by a team that scored a historic victory over Leitrim in the Connacht quarter-final.
“They have some very good players if you go through them,” he says. “Some inter-county senior footballers from other counties and Kerry U-20s, et cetera.
“There are two boys from Tipperary there, Bill Maher and Alan Campbell. Shane Carthy, obviously, and Johnny Glynn. You can roll them off your list.
“If we're not on our game, we'll struggle. Leitrim saw them themselves first hand. New York are probably saying quietly to themselves, 'If we can beat Leitrim, we can beat Carlow'.
“Our thing is to just focus on our own process and what we need to be doing ourselves to make sure we get over the line.
“This is a big game for us. For these young players it's a massive experience for them. Momentum and winning is a habit and we have that going for us and we want to keep it going.”