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Carlow hurlers ready to defy the odds and rise once again in Joe McDonagh Cup final clash with Offaly

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It's a long way to the top, as both Carlow and ACDC can confirm.A county with just six senior clubs, the Scallion Eaters' presence at the pinnacle of hurling has been sporadic.They were there for a few years in the early 60s after winning the second edition of the now defunct Intermediate All-Ireland championship.A 'Senior B' title in 1992 led to a sustained period of play in the Leinster SHC but they usually made an early exit, apart from that first campaign in '93 when an open draw meant their opening fixture was a semi-final defeat to eventual champions Kilkenny.They dropped down to the Christy Ring Cup when hurling introduced tiered competitions from 2005 and won it back-to-back in 2008-9, the second victory being enough to persuade GAA Congress that they should be promoted back to Leinster.They lost to Laois in the first round in 2010, gained instant revenge in a qualifier rematch but then lost their next five championship clashes.Carlow eventually got back on the winning trail against London in 2013 and also defeated Westmeath the following year, the first of the preliminary group phase.

They preserved their status by beating Antrim for the first time in 2015 but were relegated back to the Christy Ring in 2016.Under new manager Colm Bonnar, they immediately bounced back up and then impressively claimed the first edition of the Joe McDonagh Cup and consecutive promotions, playing eventual All-Ireland champions Limerick in the preliminary quarter-finals.A single season of Leinster round-robin action followed in 2019 when they lost all four games and Galway's failure to win by more than six points cost the Tribesmen their place in the knock-out stages.Carlow have been trying to get back to the top tier since, but

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