Carnew drive on
Darcy Sand IFC Semi-final: Carnew Emmets 1-11 Laragh 0-9
The James Hickey affect continues to work its magic on the Wexford border as his Carnew Intermediate footballers secured their spot in this year's county final with this 1-11 to 0-9 victory over Decky Byrne's Laragh in Joule Park Aughrim last Saturday afternoon.
The Mount Leinster Rangers man has proved to be a perfect match for Carnew, bringing a controlled passion to the equation and uniting a group of players who have matured in the last 12 months to now find themselves 60 minutes away from a return to Senior football with the not insignificant hurdle of Tinahely standing in their way.
How has Hickey managed this? Discipline is key. Carnew conceded nine frees against Laragh. They won 14.
Their defence is disciplined, controlled, aggressive. The players are disciplined. Where once they might have argued with officials or among themselves they are now a united front with Hickey stalking the sidelines offering encouragement and oozing positivity.
He is a positive force and his energy, and his passion have found a most welcome home on the Wexford border, but he'll need every ounce of that energy to get his charges over the line against a mightily impressive Tinahely outfit in the county decider on October 14.
Both the Carnew and Laragh teams showed a horrendous amount of changes to their programme lists. Carnew had 12 changes to their starting 15, Laragh had seven. Mark Collins dropped to the bench for Carnew with Niall Osborne replacing him in the half-back line with Jack Doyle coming in at half-forward. The rest of the changes were positional. Laragh's switches were positional as well with Peter Merrigan wearing 16 but playing at centre back and John Nolan wearing 15 instead of 11 which was donned by Damien Hanlon.
This was always going to be a tight game given that the teams would be relatively evenly matched in key sectors. A full-back line of Ian Merrigan, Gary Cullen and Brendan Ward is never going to get overrun by a full-forward unit including the likes of John Kavanagh and Enda Donohue and that's not a slight on anyone, it's just a reflection on the similarities among the players.
The battle between John Kavanagh and Gary Cullen was enjoyable to watch. Kavanagh finished with five points (three frees) but he was tested all the way by the wily and teak-tough Cullen.
Laragh would prove more wasteful in front of goals over the course of the hour with 11 wides to their credit to Carnew's seven, but it was always going to be the side who got the goal at the vital time who would have the massive advantage going down the home straight in this game.
Whether that goal came in the first half or second half it didn't matter.
There weren't going to be many goals with the ever-improving Cormac Doyle manning one goal and the always reliable James Nolan in the other as well as the aforementioned Laragh full-back line and Carnew's back three of Paul Nolan, John Walshe and Michael Rock keeping a tight lid on goal chances.
And so, it came to pass. 46 minutes into the game and Laragh are under pressure in their own full-back line. Carnew turn over possession and Seanie Kinsella tears down on James Nolan's goal. Kinsella finds the excellent Conall McCrea who sprints forward towards the Rednagh Hill end with John Kavanagh offering himself on the inside track. McCrea considers his options before taking on the responsibility himself and he blasted the ball home to the back of the net to bring his personal tally up to 1-3 from play while putting Carnew firmly in the driving seat at 1-8 to 0-7.
The goal was incredibly vital, but almost as important was what happened in the next play at the other end of the field.
Laragh attacked with vengeance and the ball was worked to John Nolan whose shot was saved magnificently by Cormac Doyle in the carnew goals. Mark Miley would point from the broken ball but what healing power a goal would have had for Laragh was lost. It was a huge moment in this game.
Laragh led by 0-5 to 0-4 at the break after a decent first half. John Kavanagh opened the scoring in front of a poor crowd in Joule Park Aughrim with a point from a free after two minutes. Decky Byrne's men had two wides on the board before full-forward Eric Olohan split the posts after being found by a Damien Hanlon ball.
Seanie Kinsella was proving provider for Carnew and he picked out Conall McCrea for his opener after seven.
A sloppy spell followed. A poor kickout from Carnew gave Hanlon the chance but he fired wide before Mark Miley spurned a decent chance. John Kavanagh proved wasteful at the other end after a ball from the always impressive Nick Skelton.
A sweet Carnew move sent Conall McCrea through for his second point of the day after 12 minutes before Mark Miley swung over after 16 and David did likewise after 17 to level the game at 0-3 apiece.
Three wides from Laragh followed in the next few moments before John Nolan sent Laragh into the lead for the first time from a free after Willie Collins fouled Eric Olohan. Justin House made his entrance shortly afterwards for Collins.
John Kavanagh squared things from a free won by Andy Hughes before Eric Olohan sent Laragh in leading by the minimum at 0-5 to 0-4.
David Miley and John Kavanagh traded points after the restart before Seanie Kinsella made up for an earlier wide with a tasty core after seven to make it 0-7 to 0-5 for Laragh.
Carnew stepped up through the gears in the next few moments and were level by the 10th minute through points from Conall McCrea and John Kavanagh and they led a little later through a John Kavanagh free after a foul on McCrea by Ian Merrigan that earned the corner-back a black card from Eugene O'Brien.
Two Laragh wides preceded the Carnew goal and Seanie Kinsella collected a ball from the energetic McCrea to swing over and make it 1-9 to 0-8 with 10 to go.
Half-back Aaron Lynham made it a one-score game at 1-9 to 0-9 after 23 but that was as good as it got for Laragh.
Points for midfielder John Doyle and another from McCrea pushed Carnew out to a 1-11 to 0-9 lead where they would stay for the reminder of the game.
Another hurdle crossed by James Hickey's side. They are constantly improving in both codes, but they face major tasks from here on in. Never write them off.
Scorers - Carnew Emmets: Conall McCrea 1-4, John Kavanagh 0-5 (3f), Seanie Kinsella 0-1, Padraig Doran 0-1. Laragh: Eric Olohan 0-2, Mark Miley 0-2, David Miley 0-2, Damien Hanlon 0-1, Aaron Lynham 0-1, John Nolan 0-1 (f).
Carnew Emmets: Cormac Doyle; Paul Nolan, John Walshe, Michael Rock; Niall Osborne, Andy Hughes, Willie Collins; Padraig Doran, John Doyle; Jack Doyle, Seanie Kinsella, Nick Skelton; Enda Donohue, John Kavanagh, Conall McCrea. Subs: Justin House for W Collins, Joe Hughes for Jack Doyle, Mark Collins for N Osborne, Paudi McGing for E Donohue, Thomas Kennedy for S Kinsella.
Laragh: James Nolan; Ian Merrigan, Gary Culen, Brendan Ward; Aaron Lynham, Peter Merrigan, Andrew Kenny; David McDonald, Jamie Cullen; Craig Miley, Damien Hanlon, David Miley; Mark Miley, Eric Olohan, John Nolan. Subs: Steve Olohan for I Merrigan (BC), Jack Dunne, Alan Smyth, Liam McEvoy.
Referee: Eugene O'Brien (Aughrim)