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Broderick: O'Brien changed Carlow mindset

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TRIBUTE: Paul Broderick. Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile

TRIBUTE: Paul Broderick. Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

TRIBUTE: Paul Broderick. Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile

On Saturday, just after lunch, a lengthy message dropped in the Carlow team's Whatsapp group from Turlough O'Brien.

"I was quite emotional reading it, to be honest with you," admits Paul Broderick, O'Brien's trusted freetaker during his six years at the helm in Carlow.

"I wouldn't have had any idea that he was thinking (of resigning now). But he's given a lot and I've gotten a lot from him."

Their connection, a mutually beneficial one, stretches back further than than six years of O'Brien's transformative tenure.

Before O'Brien managed Carlow, he filled a coaching role under Anthony Rainbow and Broderick recalls vividly the aftermath of a victory over Waterford in a qualifier in 2014.

"I never saw someone as passionate. It was like he was overcome with emotion."

From celebrating victory over Waterford as though Carlow had won an All-Ireland, O'Brien took his county to frontiers they scarcely knew existed.

Promotion to NFL3 in 2018 was their first spring migration in 33 years. That May, they beat Kildare in the Leinster SFC for the first time in 65 years, when Broderick scored 0-11 and Carlow converted 100 per cent of their shots on goal.

The previous summer, Carlow led Monaghan with 12 minutes remaining of their qualifier in Dr Cullen Park when "a bit of cuteness" - as Broderick puts it - could have seen them record a famous victory.

They also hosted Tyrone in a season when Mickey Harte's men would contest an All-Ireland final.

"We could and probably should have beaten Monaghan. Those days, they're the days I remember. We don't have the medals to hang up. Those days were huge."

O'Brien succeeded Rainbow as Carlow manager in September 2014, at which point nobody was arguing he had strong materials to work with.

"I'd estimate in a decade, we'd go through a hundred players," Broderick explans. "And we don't have a hundred players of an inter-county standard in Carlow. So that has created a community; a friendship, a bond. That's where he wanted it to grow from."

Broderick, who was nominated for an All Star in 2018, concedes the outgoing manager's are "big shoes to fill," but adds that his replacement will walk into an entirely different environment to the one O'Brien inherited.

"There a mentality in the group now," he stresses. "Before Turlough, if we went three or four points down in a game, it was always over.

"But," Broderick adds, "he instilled a belief that we should be competing, that we should be winning games."