Saturday's game represents a mammoth task against a title chasing side littered with contracted players, but Co Carlow coach Kim Thurbon remains optimistic. " Yeh It's going to be a formidable challenge and that's putting it mildly. But it's a challenge and an occasion we are looking forward to. We understand how difficult it's going to be and all we can do is give it our best shot, be as competitive as we can be an see what happens. Training has gone exceptionally well and the lads are in a positive frame of mind. We've given a good account of ourselves in games like this and I've no doubt we'll so the same against Con."
It seems just a short time ago that Co Carlow, after a sensational start, led the division but that early run which yielded four wins, came to a halt and seven defeats later they are staring relegation in the face with remaining games against UCD (away) and Ballymena (home). "Before Christmas, maybe sides weren't too aware of us and that worked in our favour." explains Thurbon, " After that the games got tougher but we still played some decent rugby. We lost a few games narrowly and that put us in the position we're in now. Still, there's three games left but we'll deal with Saturday first."
Inspirational number 8 Andy Melville (pictured) is still out injured and has missed the last number of games while Thurbon will run the rule over David Cox and David Hyland later in the week. He has no immediate plans to move from Oak Park, obviously enjoying his role after three years at the helm.
"The support here is marvellous. The players are a joy to work with, so different to Aussie players. With these boys you ask them to do something and they just do it, an Aussie will ask why. And the supporters have been magic all year, turning up in their thousands, right behind the side throughout."
And they'll need all that support on Saturday, Con will arrive with Munster players, Conor Mahony, Anthony Horgan, Mick O'Driscoll, Donnacha O'Callaghan, and Jim Williams plus Leinster scrum-half Brian O'Meara. They are currently lying in second place in the table and knowing that a victory here would virtually guarantee them a place in the knock-outs.