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'The Boys Were Thinking About Renaming Tullamore, 'Bullamore''

'The Boys Were Thinking About Renaming Tullamore, 'Bullamore''

Paul Broderick is one of the few Carlow players without a nickname.

"There could be one coming down the line," Broderick told Balls on Thursday afternoon as he was named PwC GAA/GPA Footballer of the Month for May.

If he does pick one up, it'll likely be animal related. The Carlow zoo already has Horse Lawlor, Panda Walsh, Bear Redmond and Bull Moran.

"The boys were thinking about renaming Tullamore, 'Bullamore', because he was probably Man of the Match at wing-back against Kildare.

"There's a lot of animal names, I'm not sure how it came about."

There's a buzz in Carlow at the moment, especially in the town. Broderick lives close and hasn't witnessed anything like it before - bar maybe for Éire Óg's run to the 1996 All-Ireland club final.

Promotion to Division Three of the National League was the foundation for a level of excitement which had found planning permission in some eye-catching performances in last year's championship.

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Leinster wins, first against Louth and then Kildare - Division Two and One teams, respectively - have added walls to the house Turlough O'Brien is building.

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O'Brien has encouraged his players to embrace the experience. The Carlow footballers are notable for being an open door to the media rather than the shuttered buildings of so many other inter-county teams.

It could go by and you'd look back in a few years and go, 'Jaysus, I wish I'd taken in a bit more of that'.

Turlough's not forcing lads to do anything but he always says, 'Go and enjoy it whatever way you feel most comfortable. If you to hibernate, go hibernate. If you want to talk to absolutely everyone, then do, but don't do anything that puts you off'.

It's great in that way, it gives you the freedom to do whatever you want.

The county does genuinely feel like a club set-up. I think Turlough and Steven [Poacher] are a huge part of that. It's the same with Tommy [Wogan], Benji [O'Brien] and the lads behind the scenes. A lot of them are Carlow men - Steven isn't - but a lot of them are Carlow men.

Steven makes a point of getting to know everyone personally and I suppose having that information means there's great camaraderie. You're together more often with the lads more than you would be with your club during the club season. I think that's led to a great togetherness. It certainly feels like that as well - you can't wait to go training.

Don't get me wrong, winning helps, there's been years where you were dreading training, not because of the lads that are here but because it's not going well.

Sunday afternoon in Croke Park brings a Leinster semi-final against Laois, the third time the teams have faced each other this year. Laois won the two previous games, including the Division Four final. That game was Broderick's first time playing in Croke Park.

Injuries had the handbrake on much of his career - that includes for the first two years under Turlough O'Brien where his playing time was limited. There was a championship match against Louth and a sprinkling of league games but not much else.

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A strong bounce back from ankle surgery coupled with some smart management of his workload have facilitated an impressive league and championship campaign. He's totalled 1-19 from the games against Louth and Kildare.

"I have to hand it to the lads, if you turn up and you're showing symptoms that would say you shouldn't be training, you're not training and that's it. They're very good that way.

"You do feel good the next day - say for instance I didn't train the Tuesday gone because I felt that I was still a little bit sore from last week's training. I did a couple of tests and they said, 'No, you're not training' and I'm all the better for it today."

Broderick has learned a few things from his one day out at Croker. There are elements he'll replicate again and others he'll change. That includes ensuring he'll have the right studs for the conditions.

"I rely on a pair of Asics Tigreor boots. They have a ten-millimetre heel lift which is why I started wearing them because of my ankle problems. I find them very comfortable. I'm wearing them the last two or three years - I wore them for a lot of the league.

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"The ground was softer and I wore these longer studs for the last couple of league games. I just carried those into Croke Park and I didn't bring the other ones - I just felt the studs weren't going into the ground.

"It was a problem that maybe on the day would have been easy to resolve if I'd just picked up the ball and played it out of my hands. It doesn't explain [why I had problems] from play - I was well-used to the boots. It explains maybe why the trajectory of the ball was a little bit lower at times."

Broderick's level-headedness is clear. It'd be easy to blame the most recent defeat to Laois on the boots issue but it's not an excuse he's going to grasp. Neither is he getting carried away with the remarkable shooting display against Kildare - Carlow didn't hit a single wide while scoring 2-14.

"I think that's an outlier - it was a fluke if I'm being honest. I heard Sean Gannon make a joke, 'Why didn't Turlo tell us to do this before?' It is a bit of a fluke.

"If we'd gone and kicked two or three wide the last day, you still would have said we were shooting at a high percentage. It's not as if we're going to lay off and not work on that now.

"I think we are still improving as a team. There's a lot of elements of our game that still need work. Where we've come on is that in other years we might have coughed up a lot more ball physically.

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"Kildare are a Division One side and we've played them in other years, not in championship, but we've played them in a couple of O'Byrne Cup games, friendlies and they've just overpowered up physically.

"It's a credit to the lads, the strength and conditioning. We were able to match them for the first 15 or 20 and then it was anyone's game."

The rivalry with Laois is one which permeates the 31-year-old's life. Its front is close home. He's a secondary school teacher is Laois. There was the odd bit of slagging from his students throught the year but he gives as good as he gets. Broderick is an also friends with many of the Laois players - they grew up together.

My home place in Carlow is not a mile from Graiguecullen and yet you'd have lads from Graiguecullen who play for Carlow clubs and you have Graiguecullen who used to be one of the most successful Carlow Championship teams until they moved to Laois.

A lot of the Laois players would shop, they would socialise, everything would be done in Carlow. I'm good friends with some of them but there is a rivalry.

There was always a rivalry but we weren't there to match it in terms of their level.

I would have gone to school with some of these lads, I would have known them, socialised with them. It's a funny one but it is good-natured.

I think they're a talented bunch and I'm not saying that because it's the thing to say. They've beaten us twice - they're the toughest opponents we've faced this year. They're very tactically astute and physically, they probably have an edge on us.

It's up to our management and team to pull together and go, 'Right, how can we overcome the things that caused us to lose the last day?'

Carlow’s Paul Broderick and Clare’s John Conlon confirmed as the PwC GAA/GPA Players of the Month for May in football and hurling. Pictured is Paul Broderick after being presented with his PwC GAA/GPA Player of the Month Award at the PwC Offices in Dublin.

Picture credit: Sportsfile

See Also: An Evening On The Terrace With Wexford's Angriest Man

PJ Browne
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