Allianz Division 4 Round 4
At Netwatch Cullen Park
By John Whelan
Carlow remain unbeaten in the Allianz National League but that doesn’t mean feelings of frustration aren’t to the fore for Carlow leaving Netwatch Cullen Park. As the clocked ticked over seventy three minutes however, Wicklow’s Dean Odlum saw his free drift over the umpire’s head to the left of goal to deny Wicklow a smash and grab win. The final moments could have been very different if it wasn’t for a committed Wicklow side that just refused to give in.
The first half was a slow paced affair with a strong wind in Wicklow’s favour . There were similarities to last Saturday in Dungarven in the strength of the wind and the magnificent efforts of Carlow to keep a team playing with the wind within reach on the scoreboard . John McGrath opened the scoring for Wicklow with a free on two minutes. Darragh Foley put in a huge hit to win the ball shortly thereafter, followed a few minutes later by Daniel St. Ledger winning the ball in front of his own goal. Wicklow had started the brighter but the defensive efforts of Carlow would frustrate them especially when Carlow goalkeeper Craig Kearney pulled off a great save to deny a Wicklow goal on seven minutes. Conor McGraynor would get another point for Wicklow on nine minutes to give them something to show for all their dominance in the opening ten minutes. Wicklow were not giving up their bright start and when they sent a high ball in ,Barry John Molloy did very well to throw his body in front of the ball to prevent it getting to a Wicklow man in front of goal.
Carlow were finding it very hard to get possession in the Wicklow half but more committed efforts from Daniel St Ledger in plucking the ball out of the sky on his own goal line and another block from Barry John Molloy ultimately meant Wicklow went twenty minutes without a score in the first half. Carlow will look back on the game and perhaps see referee Fergal Barry’s (Kildare) decision to give a throw ball instead of a fourteen yard free or a penalty as frustrating.
Carlow had not scored in the opening twenty five minutes but they did not become impatient. Shane Redmond kept the Carlow defensive efforts up when he battled hard to win another ball delivered to the Wicklow forward line. When a ball was sent forward and skewed out over the line for Carlow it elicited an ironic cheer from the Wicklow supporters. Wicklow took it short, Darragh Foley reacted quickest, won the ball and surged forward and stuck the ball over the bar to give Carlow their first score.
Barry John Molloy did very well to dispossess a Wicklow man metres from the Carlow goal to keep Wicklow out once again. Aaron Murphy got Wicklow’s third point on twenty eight minutes.
Then Carlow got the penalty they feel they deserved minutes earlier. Brian Murphy was brought down again and this time Fergal Barry stuck out both arms. Brian Murphy stepped up to take it and agonisingly for Carlow ,the Wicklow goalkeeper Robert Lambert went the right way to deny Carlow the goal. The ball did rebound out and John Murphy narrowly missed out on the ball falling to him and Wicklow disposed of the danger. Murphy would successfully convert a free two minutes later to get Carlow’s second score. Dean Odlum added a point on the cusp of the halftime whistle to make Carlow 0-2 Wicklow 0-4 at half time.
Brian Murphy slotted over a free on fifty seconds to give Carlow a great start to the second half. Darragh Foley saw his shot from a free ricochet off the post to bounce over the bar to level the two sides with thirty eight minutes gone. Carlow won a free three minutes later and after some dissent from Wicklow it was moved up, Foley fancied his chances once again and it sailed over the bar to give Carlow the lead for the first time. Conor McGraynor would convert a free to bring the sides level again. Daniel St. Ledger continued the Carlow battling efforts for the ball and won it when he stuck his hand in. From the resulting pass he found Sean Gannon who drove forward , he popped it to Ed Finnegan who unleashed a shot that agonisingly smashed off the crossbar. Carlow didn’t let the heads go down and on the next attack Gannon found space and from long range he sent the ball over the bar.
Sean Gannon won a ball in midfield yet again, the ball came to Brendan Murphy and he sent it over to give Carlow a two point lead. Wicklow wouldn’t let Carlow put any real daylight between the two sides and Dean Odlum added a free swiftly followed by a point from play to level the sides with fifteen minutes remaining.
Carlow responded well and a long range delivery from Wicklow was met with Shane Redmond with his arms fully stretched above his head to win the ball. Carlow cleared the ball, found second half substitute Eoghan Ruth and from forty metres he drove the ball straight between the posts to ignite the Carlow supporters. Moments later Barry John Molloy found himself around midfield, he won the ball skipped past his man, found Sean Gannon who went on another driving run. Gannon skipped past his man to find acres of space and he calmly sent the ball over for other fine score . Unfortunately it would be Carlow’s last score. Wicklow responded quickly again and Anthony McLoughlin pointed to bring them back within one with twelve remaining.
Carlow looked like they would keep Wicklow out in the closing minutes. Darragh Foley and Brendan Murphy combined to win balls close to their own goal and dispose of the danger. So too did Daniel St Ledger and Barry John Molloy once again with St. Ledger getting in front of the large Conor McGraynor and Molloy winning the ball in midfield. Darragh Foley and Sean Gannon both found themselves winning the ball deep into their own half in the closing moments but Wicklow finally got their chance. Odlum converted a free to bring the sides level with just stoppage time to be played.
Deep into stoppage time Wicklow were driving forward and a point seemed certain, Brendan Murphy sacrificed himself and brought down the Wicklow man to give Dean Odlum a chance at winning the game with a free from a very scoreable position. It was not to be for Wicklow and the ball sailed to the left and wide, the umpire waved his hands and a knee buckling sigh came from the Carlow supporters. Next up for Carlow is a crucial game in Tullamore against Offaly next Sunday at 2pm.
Darragh Foley 0-3(2fs)
Brian Murphy 0-2(2fs)
Sean Gannon 0-2
Brendan Murphy 0-1
Eoghan Ruth 0-1
Craig Kearney, Barry John Molloy, Shane Redmond, Kieran Nolan, Mark Fitzgerald, Daniel St. Ledger, Benny Kavanagh, Sean Gannon, Darragh Foley, Ed Finnegan, Brendan Murphy, David Bambrick, Brian Murphy, John Murphy Subs: Robbie Molloy, Alan Kelly (59 on for Darragh O’Brien), Cormac Mullins (69 on for Darragh Foley), Danny Moran, Ciaran Moran (52 on for Ed Finnegan) , David Kinsella, Jason Kane, Diarmuid Cronin, Eoghan Ruth (46 on for David Bambrick) , Eric McCormack , Hugh Gahan (59 on for John Murphy)
Division 4 Results
Antrim 1-12 London 1-8
Longford 1-12 Waterford 1-10
Carlow 0-9 Wicklow 0-9
Offaly 2-13 Leitrim 1-16
Division 4 Table
P W L D F A Pts
1 OFFALY 4 3 0 1 65 43 7
2 LONGFORD 4 3 0 1 65 47 7
3 CARLOW 4 2 0 2 50 46 6
4 ANTRIM 4 2 1 1 64 56 5
5 WICKLOW 4 1 2 1 42 57 3
6 LEITRIM 4 0 2 2 60 66 2
7 WATERFORD 4 1 3 0 43 49 2
8 LONDON 4 0 4 0 35 60 0