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Year After Carlow Retirement, Paul Broderick One Step From The Dream

27 May 2018; Paul Broderick of Carlow during the Leinster GAA Football Senior Championship Quarter-Final match between Carlow and Kildare at O'Connor Park in Tullamore, Offaly. Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile

By PJ Browne
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24 minutes into the second half of Sunday's Carlow senior football semi-final between Tinryland and Mount Leinster Rangers, Paul Broderick's legs felt "like jelly" after a sprint from midfield. "Eat your heart of Linford Christie!" Brendan Hennessy roared on commentary as the Tinryland forward burst through the defence to set up Paddy Regan for his side's second goal.

"It was interesting to see the video," Broderick tells Balls.

"I was always convinced that I was just about to be caught!"

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The goal put Tinryland six points ahead, a nine-point swing from where they were at half-time: Scoreless in a dour game with Mount Leinster Rangers having put three points on the scoreboard.

"Lads, it was grim, you could hear a pin drop at Netwatch Cullen Park for the entire first half," Kevin Regan said on The Left Wing Back Podcast about the game.

"I took two paracetamol at half-time because I have a bit of a dose on me. I swear to Jaysus, if I had no dose, I still probably would have took the paracetamol.

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"It was painful. At one stage, Marty Barry had a shout out for some lad to go and move a car. It wasn't my car, but I was half thinking of going out to move it anyway!"

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Broderick, who spent the first half sitting on the bench as he was only just returning from injury, could feel that frustration in the crowd.

"Not having scored has its own tag," he says.

You can feel that from the crowd. I was walking in at half-time, and you can almost feel that nobody wants to go to the game where a team doesn't score, and one where there's only three scores. They've paid in, and they're looking for entertainment. They probably didn't get that for large parts of the game.

If the game was 6-3, it wouldn't have had the same feeling to it, even though it would have been the same deficit. That's maybe in the back of your mind [in the dressing room]. But because we were only three points down, we were calmer than what supporters might have been in the stand.

Broderick, Carlow's star forward for many seasons, came off the bench at half-time to provide that badly needed entertainment. He scored 1-3 as Tinryland put 2-5 on the board to reach their first Carlow senior final in 11 years.

Criticisms about their style of play have been aimed at Tinryland this season, and Broderick can understand them.

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"Sometimes it's dictated by who you're playing. Sometimes things just don't go the way you planned," he says.

"I remember playing with Carlow in 2017 and ‘18 when things were going well and lots of criticisms [were being made of us].

"Plenty of times you’d have people saying to you 'Why are you so defensive?' But it wasn't always the intention.

"We are trying to develop something [in Tinryland]. There's no maybe about it, we're not there, but that doesn't mean that we're not enjoying the journey.

"It has been levelled at us. We have been sitting back at times. Did we always want to be [in a situation] where we're sitting back? Probably not, but games never go fully to plan.

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"I'd understand those criticisms. They're hard to defend when people are there watching it, looking for entertainment."

'I don't have 11 years to wait for another Carlow final'

Due to a troublesome ankle injury, which had bothered him in previous years, the semi-final was the 35-year-old's first appearance for Tinryland since they defeated Éire Óg in the group stage.

He had spent the winter playing soccer with New Oak in Carlow town, a club he'd lined out with a decade ago.

"My intention when I went back to soccer was just to fill the gap till club came back with Tinryland," says Broderick.

"There's a couple of lads, really good soccer players that play with Tinryland, and I'd be chatting to them, and they said to come on in. It's like test driving a car, once you bring it away, you're going to buy it.

"We were winning, and so it was really, really enjoyable after coming off, with Gaelic football, a short season where we lost our last game in the quarter-final.

"Towards the start and end of the season, it was two games a week. It was a great game to training ratio. Stephen (O’Meara), our manager in Tinryland, didn't mind as long as I was available for league.

"It's different. While it's taken seriously, sometimes in the GAA, we can take ourselves a little too seriously. This was a different atmosphere. I really enjoyed it, and wouldn't rule out going back.

"It wasn't as harsh on the body, though the games are longer. It could take more time to recover, but there's not the same hits as you would have in a GAA match.

"I missed the end of the soccer, and the start of the football due to that ankle injury. As it turned out, I didn't play any football from April to the end of August. Then when I played 20 minutes at the end of August, I picked up another knock."

27 May 2018; Carlow players from left Cian Lawler, Paul Broderick and team captain John Murphy celebrate after the Leinster GAA Football Senior Championship Quarter-Final match between Carlow and Kildare at O'Connor Park in Tullamore, Offaly. Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile

Tinryland, aiming to win their first title since 1981, face neighbours Palatine - who knocked out reigning champions Rathvilly in the semi-final - in a novel final this Sunday. It's the first time since 1950 that the two sides have met in the decider.

When he retired from inter-county action last year, Broderick said he was doing so with a few years left in the legs and the dream being to win a championship with Tinryland.

"You only ever get a flavour of your own club, and I would imagine that most teams do think [they will win a title] - I've thought that every year for the last 18 years, and we haven't.

"That's one of the reasons I'd be glad it's coming around quickly. You want it to happen, and stay on the crest of a wave from last weekend.

"I know, from looking at it, it might not have looked like much of a crest to people but from where we've come from, and the fact that we've won the game, we don't really care how we won. It's a good feeling I won't lie to you.

"I don't know how many years I have left, but I don't have 11 years to wait again. I was talking to Cian Lawlor, he was on the fringes of the panel [in 2011], and he was saying that he thought this is how it's going to be every year. That is what you think.

"There's a couple of us bringing the average age well up, but there's a lot of younger lads on the team now, a lot more than there was [11 years ago].

"Who knows? Maybe it will work out that way for them. Maybe the collective might get it together and get to a few finals, but I'm certainly not taking it for granted, 11 years has taught me that."

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