Carlow manager Turlough O'Brien said his team proved they can live with any team in Division 1 after their five-point loss to Monaghan in Saturday evening's Round 3 football qualifier.

In 2017, Carlow claimed three championship wins for the first time since they won their sole Leinster title victory in 1944.

Triumphs over Wexford, London and Leitrim saw O'Brien's team bridge a 73-year gap.

But it was their highly competitive displays against both Dublin and Monaghan that caught the eye to a greater extent. 

A second half goal from Gary Kelly sparked local hopes of a famous upset and Carlow retained the lead until the final ten minutes. 

A late surge from Monaghan enabled them to squeeze through on a five point margin, Fintan Kelly's goal being the crucial score. 

"I'm gutted. I thought coming into the game we'd a great chance," O'Brien told the Sunday Game.

"Midway through the second half we got ahead and I thought we were going to win the game. And we were in a winning position. Unfortunately we made some errors and they turned us over and got a couple of scores out it. 

"I don't think the scoreline reflected the game itself. 

"I thought it was a marvellous, marvellous performance from Carlow. I think we pushed them all the way. And I think we showed we can live with any team from Division 1. 

"The game was there to be won and Monaghan are gone up the road there and I say they're worried. They got a right fright there.

"They played Wexford last week and hammered them out of sight. But these boys here (Carlow) are a different kettle of fish. 

"And I think if the National League fixtures had gone differently, we would have won that Division 4."