Electric Ireland Leinster Minor Football Championship Quarter Final
At Glennon Brothers Pearse Park, Longford
By John Whelan
Carlow Minor Footballers have bowed out of the Leinster Championship after a strong Longford team finished with five points to spare in a wet and dark Glennon Brothers Pearse Park. Kilkenny’s decision to not contest the first round fixture meant Carlow had a bye into the Quarter Final and therefore the defeat to Longford means there is no back door and Carlow are out.
Conditions were very slippery and when Longford’s Conor Berry had a free inside the first minute the wet ground caused him to slip and miss kick the ball. It was a sign of things to come as both sides found it difficult to hold onto the ball at times. Longford got to grips with the conditions early on and Joe Heaney, Darragh Doherty and Jason Matthews had Longford three points up by the fifth minute.
Conor Berry and Joe Heaney added points before Darragh Doherty landed what looked like a fatal blow with a goal that put Longford eight points up. Carlow were scoreless and teetering, Shane O’Neill broke ahead of his man and was brought down, David Moore (Laois) awarded a penalty. O’Neill took the penalty but unfortunately Longford goalkeeper Michael Hughes went the right way and saved it.
O’Neill finally got Carlow up and running with a free and Carlow began to enjoy a greater percentage of possession. Longford blazed towards goal again but this time the shot smashed off the crossbar, Carlow cleared it and worked it well up towards goal but couldn’t find a score. Ciaran Larkin got Carlow’s second score after some fine work by Jamie Clarke kept the drive alive. Longford responded with two points, Conor Berry somehow kept the ball in play after it drifted across the two uprights and slotted it over.
Carlow finished the half with a long range free from Peter Hennessy and another free from Brian Smith who was introduced as a substitute for Cathal Bailey who suffered what looked like a bad injury. Carlow trailed by 1-7 to 0-4 at half time.
Ciaran Larkin converted a free for Carlow early in the second half but it was not the kick-start Carlow were looking for. Carlow would not add another score until the fifteenth minute. Points from Joe Heaney and Conor Berry saw Longford move seven points clear. A “45” for Carlow was cleared off the line, Darren Lunney was there to mop up the clearance and put it over the bar. Jason Matthews responded for Longford to push them seven clear once more . Shane O’ Neill converted a free for Carlow but they just couldn’t maintain momentum, Joe Heaney responded instantly. A Sean Bambrick point kept Carlow going after some impressive passing between Shane O’Neill and Conor Crowley saw them surge towards goal.
That Bambrick point put Carlow back within relative touching distance, Longford saw their lead significantly reduced when Shane O’Neill got the final touch on a ball that ended up in the back of the net. Carlow had gone very close shortly before that, Ross Dunphy just couldn’t control the wet ball when he was in on goal, Longford got back in numbers and from the resulting clearance Lynn pointed. Dunphy impressed when he was introduced with over twenty minutes left and found himself forcing turnovers deep inside his own half. The O’Neill goal brought Carlow back to within five points whereas it so easily could have been to level it. A Longford point on thirty minutes saw Longford reclaim the seven point lead. Carlow tried their hardest to get in a position to get a goal but a late free from Shane O’Neill narrowly went over the bar. Carlow lost out 1-9 to 1-14.
Carlow Team : Ciaran Byrne, Conor O’ Doherty, James Brennan, Colin Byrne, Dylan Salter, Cathal Gaffney, Darren Crooks, Peter Hennessy (0-1f), Cathal Bailey, Aaron Amond, Sean Bambrick(0-1), Ciaran Larkin (0-2, 1f), Jamie Clarke, Shane O’Neill (1-3 , 3f), Darren Lunney (0-1) Subs: Keith Hickey, Conor McGrath, Fionn Murphy, Niall Cawley, Conor Crowley, Eoin McDonagh, Brian Smith (0-1, 1f), Ross Dunphy, Tommy Brick Other Panel Members: Martin Cole, James Keogh, Colm Heneghan, Cian Fitzpatrick, Niall Lowry, Liam Coughlan, Luke Coleman, Larry Doyle, Conor Reynolds