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Cruel Loss for Footballers in Tullamore

Carlow 1-10

Offaly   0-14

Allianz Football Division 4 Round 5

At O’Connor Park, Tullamore

By John Whelan

Carlow have finally been beaten in their 2015 league campaign . It was a hard loss to take for the players and the travelling support, Carlow had matched Offaly in many areas and to say they deserved more out of the game is an understatement.

Carlow started the game brightly with Ciarán Moran grabbing an early point after just three minutes. Niall McNamee responded with a point of his own, a Brendan Murphy point cancelled that score out to give Carlow an early 0-2 to 0-1 lead after just six minutes.

The first half was lacking in action and Bernard Allen added two points for Offaly to put them in the lead on twenty minutes. Carlow got their first score in twenty minutes when Darragh O’Brien slotted the ball over the bar on twenty six minutes. In that time Carlow had been frustrated by the lack of possession in the Offaly half and efforts to find John Murphy were met with two Offaly shirts to the one Carlow. Allen got his third point of the day just two minutes later to give Offaly the lead once more.

Offaly were also frustrated by the efforts of Carlow in defence. Offaly often had to resort to kicking passes a good distance behind them to try find space as they attacked. Kieran Nolan, Barry John Molloy and Shane Redmond were all operating well as the last line of defence.

Ed Finnegan pointed for Carlow late on but Eoin Carrol clinched a vital point on thirty eight minutes which meant Offaly led by a point at half time, Offaly 0-5, Carlow 0-4.

Carlow got off to a blazing start to the second half when Sean Gannon levelled the sides after just fifteen seconds. From the throw in Brendan Murphy broke the ball for Gannon who exchanged a one two with Hugh Gahan and Gannon slotted it over the bar to prompt a roar from the Carlow support in the stand. Brendan Murphy received the ball from Ed Finnegan, skipped past two Offaly men and put the ball over the bar to give Carlow the lead with just ninety seconds gone in the second half.

Offaly responded immediately however and Bernard Allen got another point moments later. Willie Mulhall would reclaim the lead for Offaly on thirty nine minutes. Points from Niall McNamee and Darby would give Offaly a three point lead that for a few moments was looking daunting as Offaly looked to be finally clicking all over the pitch.

Carlow then kicked into a higher gear. A very patient build up from Carlow reaped rewards when Brendan Murphy won the kick out, sent the ball back to Barry John Molloy who used the second half substitute Darragh Foley to find Mark Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald held onto the ball well, bounced it as he went past his man, popped it to Darragh O’Brien who headed away from goal to the find the space to shoot and saw it land over the bar.

John Murphy got a fine score to bring Carlow back within one. Murphy was one of four Carlow men instrumental in neutralising a dangerous Offaly attack, when he won the ball close to his own goal. Coming out of their own half he played a one two with David Bambrick, Bambrick popped it to Sean Gannon, Gannon sent it in , Offaly won the ball but Carlow won it back again and through Mark Fitzgerald John Murphy received the ball and put it over the bar.  Carlow would then get their third point in five minutes when Daniel St Ledger slotted the ball over to level the sides on fifty one minutes.

John Murphy led a driving surge towards goal and was shoved over, the ball fell out to Darragh O’Brien who played a one two with Gannon, he popped it to Bambrick who returned it to O’Brien and unleashed a powerful shot that nestled in the top right corner of the Offaly goal. Carlow had scored 1-3 in some six minutes to jump into a three point lead. Unfortunately for Carlow they would only score one more point in the closing sixteen minutes.

Bernard Allen responded once more to get Offaly’s first score in eight minutes. Allen would convert another free on fifty seven minutes to bring Offaly back to within one but it was a controversial one as Craig Kearney and a group of Carlow players couldn’t believe it wasn’t waved wide.

Carlow were battling seriously hard to prevent Offaly from scoring and they kept them out for over ten minutes until they got the leveller on sixty four minutes. There were some great moments for the Carlow defence in those ten minutes. Sean Gannon put his body on the line to put in an impressive block as Offaly looked certain to score. Craig Kearney had put in a fantastic save moments prior to Gannon’s block and Carlow were beginning to look like they might just keep Offaly out. Shane Redmond did very well to stick his hand in, win the ball and draw the foul to stop the danger once more for Carlow but it was all one way traffic.

When Offaly finally did get the score to level the game Carlow were not fazed by it. The very next phase of play resulted in a Carlow point. Darragh Foley won the ball in midfield , gave it to Cormac Mullins who combined with Daniel St Ledger to find Shane Redmond deep into the Offaly half. Redmond returned the ball to Cormac Mullins who sent the ball over the bar to give Carlow the lead once more.

Carlow were in agonisingly hard luck to see Bernard Allen level the game with a free with  one minute remaining. Offaly had been knocking on the door with probing runs towards goal for a good deal of the second half and when Johnny Moloney fisted the ball over the bar with seventy one minutes gone it was a tough reality to face when the referee blew the full time whistle shortly thereafter. A loss was very much undeserved for the Carlow side today who put in a great performance. Next up for Carlow Senior Footballers is the visit of Leitrim to Netwatch Cullen Park on March 29th.

Carlow Scorers

Darragh O’Brien                1-2

Brendan Murphy             0-2

Daniel St. Ledger              0-1

Sean Gannon                     0-1

Ciarán Moran                     0-1

Ed Finnegan                       0-1

John Murphy                     0-1

Cormac Mullins                 0-1

Carlow Team

Craig Kearney, Barry John Molloy, Shane Redmond, Kieran Nolan, Mark Fitzgerald, Daniel St. Ledger, Benny Kavanagh, Sean Gannon, Hugh Gahan, Ciarán Moran, Brendan Murphy, David Bambrick, Ed Finnegan, John Murphy, Darragh O’Brien Subs: Robbie Molloy, Cormac Mullins( 47 on for Moran), Danny Moran, Darragh Foley (43 on for Gahan), Daryl Roberts, Pauric Hickey, David Kinsella, Declan Kelly, Eric McCormack, Jason Kane (57 on for B.Murphy), Michael Meaney (68 on for Finnegan)

Division 4 Results

Wicklow               1-10       Longford 1-16

Offaly                    0-14       Carlow  1-10

Waterford           0-13       Antrim  0-15


Division 4 Table

POS        TEAM                           P             W           L              D             F              A             POINTS

1              LONGFORD               5              4              0              1              84           60           9

2              OFFALY                     5              4              0              1              79           56           9

3              ANTRIM                    5              3              1              1              79           69           7

4              CARLOW                   5              2              1              2              63           60           6

5              WICKLOW                5              1              3              1              55           76           3

6              LEITRIM                  4              0              2              2              60           66           2

7              WATERFORD             5              1              4              0              56           64           2

8              LONDON                   4              0              4              0              35           60           0