Thursday 19 October 2017

Connolly incident casts a shadow over Dubs victory

Dublin 0-19 Carlow 0-7

A screen-grab of the second half incident between Dublin star Diarmuid Connolly and the linesman. Photo: Daire Brennan/Sportsfile
A screen-grab of the second half incident between Dublin star Diarmuid Connolly and the linesman. Photo: Daire Brennan/Sportsfile
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

The average winning margin for Jim Gavin's Dublin teams in the 12 Leinster Championship games that they've played in the last four years is 15 points.

The average winning margin for Jim Gavin's Dublin teams in the 12 Leinster Championship games that they've played in the last four years is 15 points.

Sean Gannon of Carlow in action against Jack McCaffrey of Dublin during the Leinster GAA Football Senior Championship Quarter-Final. Photo: Ray McManus/Sportsfile
Sean Gannon of Carlow in action against Jack McCaffrey of Dublin during the Leinster GAA Football Senior Championship Quarter-Final. Photo: Ray McManus/Sportsfile

The only other time they failed to score a goal in those 12 games was against Meath in last year's semi-final. In that context, Carlow's strategy of containment in Saturday night's quarter-final at O'Moore Park in Portlaoise was a success.

Factor in Brendan Murphy's dismissal on 48 minutes for a second yellow card - when he pulled Jonny Cooper to the ground by the neck in an off-the-ball incident at a time when they were trailing by just 0-10 to 0-6 - and it further validates an approach designed to frustrate Dublin for as long as possible.

Carlow, obviously, were never going to win. So the length of time they could stay in contention was their challenge.

It was only after the departure of Murphy, their pillar for so long, that they loosened and were outscored by 0-9 to 0-1 in the closing 27 minutes. Even then, Dublin's last four points came in the five added minutes.

Brendan Murphy of Carlow battles against Jack McCaffrey of Dublin. Photo: Ray McManus/Sportsfile
Brendan Murphy of Carlow battles against Jack McCaffrey of Dublin. Photo: Ray McManus/Sportsfile

Patience

It was a slow burner for the champions, a night that required much patience. They didn't always show it and the frustration of meeting a wall of multicoloured shirts every time they went past their opponents' 45-metre line manifested in ball turned over, snatched shots and even Diarmuid Connolly kicking a ball out over the sideline early in the second-half.

It wasn't Connolly's only act of notoriety. His contact with linesman Ciaran Branagan as he protested over a sideline award and his exchanges with three Carlow opponents who grappled with him is sure to attract the interest of disciplinary chiefs. A potential three-month ban is on the table, but how the match officials didn't act at the time of the incident is baffling.

Dublin have had to become accustomed to facing such massed and disciplined numbers in defence in recent years.

Danny Moran of Carlow in action against Con O'Callaghan of Dublin at O'Moore Park, Portlaoise. Photo: Ray McManus/Sportsfile
Danny Moran of Carlow in action against Con O'Callaghan of Dublin at O'Moore Park, Portlaoise. Photo: Ray McManus/Sportsfile

Sometimes their approach has been to get the ball into the right hands and get off long-range shots, but against Carlow they sought to penetrate and their work just wasn't sharp enough.

There were times when they had almost every player ahead of the ball but they still didn't create a single, clear-cut goal chance.

Carlow are a powerfully built team, physical and aggressive, and they used those attributes to their advantage.

He may only have moved over from the Carlow hurlers at the beginning of the year, but there are few more explosive runners in the game than midfielder Sean Murphy, who went for gaps and made so much yardage. Warren Gatland is watching!

Defenders Conor Lawlor and Daniel St Ledger used their power to make gains, while Carlow were smart enough to slow the game down deep in their own half at times, in the knowledge that they couldn't sustain the pace.

However, manager Turlough O'Brien was disappointed with their counter-attacking.

"We expected that we weren't going to make it very, very difficult for Dublin, but that they'd find it very difficult to break us down," he said.

"I thought our transition would be better. We created some real difficulties for them, I don't think Dublin got a shot on goal in the whole game. We came in here and I think all of you would have said, 'Dublin by 25 points'. But it wasn't that way."

Animated

O'Brien was quite animated over Murphy's dismissal, but later said he accepted the decision.

"When you lose a man of Brendan's calibre, you're always inclined to be upset. I just feel over the man's career he just seems to be a target for little things and he doesn't seem to get the rub of the green."

Nor did O'Brien want sympathy over the gap between Division 1 and Division 4.

"I don't think pundits really should shed any crocodile tears for a county like Carlow on a day like today," he said.

"We don't need condescension dripping from pens or from computer keyboards.

"I think we gave a very good account of ourselves and any county that is organised and has their set-up right can compete. A lot of counties have fallen foul of the general consensus that it's a foregone conclusion when you play Dublin and they're beaten before they start.

"I hope today gives other Leinster counties, that would be considerably higher ranked than Carlow, belief that they would rise to the challenge when they do meet Dublin."

It was a challenging start for Dublin debutants Con O'Callaghan and Niall Scully, but, as ever, Ciarán Kilkenny orchestrated everything, while Jack McCaffrey had a very smooth return to championship football. Bernard Brogan served a timely reminder of his class with two points off the bench.

Gavin, who was adamant that Michael Darragh Macauley has not sustained a cruciate ligament tear and will return this summer, said he did not see any incident involving Connolly and a match official and referred instead to his yellow card for pulling down Sean Murphy, claiming Connolly "seemed to be pulled to the ground in that particular tackle".

He was also satisfied to register 19 points against such a wall.

"We were in control of the game. In the first-half the shooting was a little bit off and that will have to be improved."

Scorers - Dublin: D Rock 0-6 (6fs), C Kilkenny 0-3, B Brogan, J McCaffrey , C O'Callaghan (2fs) 0-2 each, N Scully, C McHugh, D Connolly ( 1 45), P Mannion all 0-1 each. Carlow: P Broderick 0-3 (3fs), S Murphy, B Murphy, D Foley (f), D Moran all 0-1 each.

Dublin -S Cluxton 7; M Fitzsimons 7, J Cooper 7, E Lowndes 7; J McCarthy 8, C O'Sullivan 6, J McCaffrey 8; B Fenton 7, C Kilkenny 8; N Scully 6, K McManamon 5, D Connolly 5; P Mannion 7, C O'Callaghan 6, D Rock 6. Subs: B Brogan 8 for McManamon (45), S Carthy 6 for McCaffrey (52), C McHugh 6 for Rock (58), M Schutte 5 for Scully (58), D Byrne for O'Sullivan (63), D Bastick for Fenton (67).

Carlow - C Kearney 6, C Crowley 5, S Redmond 6, C Lawlor 7; D Moran 7, D St Ledger 7, G Kelly 6; B Murphy 7, S Murphy 9; E Ruth 5, D Foley 6, A Kelly 5; P Broderick 6, S Gannon 6, J Murphy 5. Subs: M Rennick 6 for A Kelly (40), S Clarke 5 for Ruth (53), J Clarke 5 for G Kelly (58), K Nolan for Crowley (63), BJ Molloy for Moran (67).

Ref - S Hurson (Tyrone).

 

Game at a glance

Man of the Match: Sean Murphy (Carlow). Explosive running from the powerful midfielder throughout took out so many Dublin opponents. Hard to believe he only switched over from the county hurling team this year.

Talking point: Diarmuid Connolly’s contact with linesman Ciaran Branagan’s chest as he protested over a line ball will draw the attention of disciplinary officials and potentially invite a three-month ban. Carlow’s defensive shield worked for a long time, with only Brendan Murphy’s red card loosening it.

Magic moment: Sean Murphy sprinting 50 metres to get a block on Dean Rock in the second-half.

Ref watch: The wonder is that, between them, Sean Hurson and Branagan did not discuss and act on the Connolly push. Hurson was slightly less lenient than he has beenin previous games.

Match statistics: Wides: Dublin 6 (1 in first-half)), Carlow 6 (2) . Frees: Dublin 13 (6), Carlow 17 (8). Yellow cards: Dublin 3 (Diarmuid Connolly 45, Paul Mannion 47, Brian Fenton 54) , Carlow 3 (Brendan Murphy 26, 48, Alan Kelly 39). Red Cards: Carlow 1 (Brendan Murphy 48)

Attendance: 13,238

What’s next?: Dublin will play Offaly or Westmeath in a Leinster semi-final on Sunday, June 25, Carlow have a round 1B qualifier on Saturday, June 24.

Irish Independent

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