Leinster Minor Football League Semi Final
At Netwatch Carlow Training Centre
By John Whelan
Carlow minor footballers have been beaten in the Leinster Minor Football League Semi Final. After a head turning run through the group stage which saw victories over Cork and Wexford, Carlow minor footballers met an in form Kildare team that had done a number on Dublin in their group stage.
Kildare started well with Aaron Murphy scoring after just twenty seconds. It was a sign of things to come as the game was being played at a blistering pace. In the opening ten minutes Kildare scored four points to Carlow’s one with Ciaran Larkin’s free the only Carlow score in that time.
Shane O’Neill converted a long range free to reduce the deficit to two points after eleven minutes and Carlow were getting the lion share of possession with Darren Crooks, Cathal Bailey and Niall Lowry all fielding well and starting attacks. Carlow were very unlucky to see a shot in the crowded box saved by Kildare goalkeeper Jack Lawler. Kildare seemed to ride out the Carlow pressure well and took their chances with two frees in the aftermath of that save. Ethan O’ Donoghue was in fine form and got his fourth point of the night along with scores from Aaron Murphy and Conor Hartley while Shane O’Neill was the only scorer for Carlow in the closing moments of the half to make it Carlow 0-3 Kildare 0-9 at half time. Carlow had been working hard to keep Kildare from scoring more and they forced a Kildare wide on the cusp of half time.
Aaron Murphy gave Kildare a bright start again with a 45. Darren Lunney was quickest to react when a Niall Lowry free came back off the upright and he popped it over the bar. Rory Feely exchanged scores with Shane O’Neill but Carlow were having to work very hard to get possession in scoring positions. Shane O’Neill stole a ball off O’ Donoghue just as he was about to pull the trigger outside the box. Kildare added another score to put six between the sides. Bambrick got one back for Carlow but they wouldn’t score again for another ten minutes. Kildare’s Mark Murray landed a blow to Carlow when he blasted the ball to the back of net on forty seven minutes just moments after Kevin Flynn had been black carded for Kildare. Kildare closed out the game with five points in the final ten. Shane O’Neill converted another free to with three remaining. It finished Carlow 0-7 , Kildare 1-16.
Carlow can be very proud of their run to the knockout stages of the Leinster Minor Football League and it served as great preparation for the Leinster Minor Football Championship. Carlow play Kilkenny on the 18th of May in Round 1 and Ken Hickey and the rest of his backroom team are relishing the challenge of the Leinster Championship.
Ciaran Byrne, Pauric Coughlin, Dylan Salter, Colin Byrne, Niall Lowry, Cathal Gaffney, Darren Crooks, Peter Hennessy, Cathal Bailey, Ciaran Larkin (0-1) , Brian Smith, Sean Bambrick (0-1), Aaron Amond, Shane O’Neill (0-4f), Darren Lunney (0-1) Subs: Conor Crowley ( for Gaffney 17 mins), Conor McGrath (for Coughlan 20 mins) Ross Dunphy (for Smith at half time)