Brendan Murphy inspires Carlow to victory over Wicklow
Carlow 1-17 1-12 Wicklow
Carlow have never won a second round qualifier game in their history, but they’ll get another shot at it in a fortnight after this dominant victory over Wicklow.
An early goal from the outstanding Brendan Murphy and the free-taking ability of Darragh Foley meant Carlow were never in danger of defeat, even when Paul Cunningham hit the net for Wicklow during a strong second quarter.
Brendan Murphy and Sean Gannon were in great form for Carlow at midfield from the start and as a result Wicklow struggled to get their hands on possession from kick-outs, which contributed to the eight-point deficit they found themselves in after the first quarter.
Daniel St Ledger kicked the home side into a first-minute lead with a free from nearly 50 metres, but from there on Darragh Foley took the free-taking duties and by half-time he had converted five frees for his side.
It was Murphy’s power that saw him in on goal after he exchanged passed with Gannon in the fifth minute, but his blistering finish was top class and left Lambert with no chance.
Cunningham kicked a free for Wicklow’s first score after 12 minutes, but Carlow followed it with three Foley frees that gave his side a healthy cushion.
But even at the other end Wicklow were creating chances, and had they converted a few of their seven wides – another two shots came back off the post – they would have been a lot closer at half-time.
After 21 minutes Cunningham looked to have rattled a goal for his side when he gathered Paddy Byrne’s shot that came back off the post, but a brilliant full-length save from Robbie Molloy kept the Bray may at bay.
Brendan Murphy had a sniff of a second goal in the 26th minute when he intercepted goalkeeper Robert Lambert, but he pointed as the keeper raced back to his empty net.
Aaron Murphy found the target after a long solo run up the right for Wicklow, and after Rory Finn and Cunningham pointed, Cunningham fired past Molloy, which meant his side only trailed 1-9 to 1-5 at the break.
After the restart Foley led the Carlow charge again and he showed he has plenty of ability from open play with points in the 36th and 41st minutes. But as they did in the second quarter Carlow faded with a significant lead in their pocket, which allowed Wicklow to ease their way back into the tie.
Two excellent points in a minute from Darren Hayden and a free from the busy Cunningham suddenly had Wicklow back within a goal of their hosts, and that score almost arrived in the 52nd minute but Molloy pulled off a superb save to tip Cunningham’s shot over the bar.
But in Brendan Murphy Carlow had the game’s shining star and after a brief move into full-forward he pointed from the right sideline, before he repeated the dose from the left side as Carlow cantered home.
Scorers – Carlow: D Foley 0-8 (5f), B Murphy 1-4, D St Ledger 0-3 (3f), C Blake, G Power 0-1.
Wicklow: P Cunningham 1-6 (4f), D Hayden, M Kenny 0-2; R Finn, A Murphy 0-1.
Carlow: R Molloy; K Nolan, D St Ledger, BJ Molloy; G Kelly, J Murphy, B Kavanagh; Brendan Murphy, S Gannon; A Kelly, D O’Brien, H Gahan; D Smithers, D Foley (c), C Blake.
Subs: G Power for O’Brien (15 BC), D Moran for G Kelly (53), Brian Murphy for J Murphy (60), J Murphy for Brendan Murphy (66 BC), B Cawley for Gannon (72 BC).
Wicklow: R Lambert; C Hyland, P McLoughlin, A Murphy; J Snell, S Kelly, D Healy; N Gaffney, A McLoughlin; M Kenny, P Cunningham, D Hayden; P Byrne, R Finn (c), M Lennon.
Subs: S Thompson for Lennon (h-t), D Woods for Gaffney (43), R O’Brien for McLoughlin (52), P O’Connor for Finn (59), J Crowe for Hayden (70), M O’Connor for Byrne (70).
Referee: P O’Sullivan (Kerry).