Sligo just one game away from promotion from Div 4

Sligo 2-10 Carlow 0-11

Sligo's Seán Carrabine scored Sligo's second goal.

Kieran MurphySligo Champion

Allianz NFL Div 4

With Sligo victorious away to Carlow on Saturday evening and Leitrim also winning against Laois on Sunday, this sets up a mouth-watering head-to-head clash in Carrick-on-Shannon this Sunday to see the promotion picture in Div 4.

A win or a draw on Sunday will be enough for Tony McEntee’s men to get promoted, something the Yeats men have been aiming for since the start of the campaign.

Niall Carew’s Carlow got off to a better start as captain Darragh Foley converted a 4th minute free and added a point from play five minutes later. It was a stop-start kind of game and the away side had the measure of a slow and ponderous Barrowside build-up.

The difference of approach between the two sides was illustrated when Sligo broke quickly out of defence and in seconds, they found Niall Murphy unmarked in front of the scoreboard goal.

The Sligo skipper still had a lot to do but he wrong-footed a Carlow defender and shot low and hard to the bottom right-hand corner of the net. Colm Hulton equalised for Carlow with one of his trademark points out on the left-hand side.

Seán Carrabine, who was having a major influence on proceedings, knocked over a beautiful left-footed shot and Pat Spillane added to the Sligo lead. Their rivals hit back with a Foley free and a Jamie Clarke point. Sandwiched in between those two scores, Sligo allowed Mikey Bambrick the Carlow full-back the freedom of the park and the defender was unlucky to see his shot taken off the line.

That piece of defending proved to be a six-point turnaround as minutes later, Carrabine was on hand to shoot low and hard to the net off the unlucky Carlow keeper, Ciaran Cunningham, who got his leg to the shot. Murphy extended the Carlow lead with another point and at the break, Sligo led 2-4 to 0-5.

The wind may not have been a factor on the night but the wet pitch made it difficult at times for the contestants.

A minute into the second period, Carlow substitute, Conor Doyle, was released down the left but, from a narrow angle, he had to be content with a point. Carrabine cancelled that score out and that proved to be the trend of the second half.

The stoppages mounted up with over 45 frees conceded relatively evenly between the two teams. Those stops in play didn’t account for line balls and kick-outs. The small pocket of Sligo supporters didn’t mind. They were delighted to see Finnian Cawley register two second half points while Spillane did likewise. The latter almost scored a goal when put clear in a one-on-one with the Carlow keeper. He did everything right as he dinked the ball over the onrushing Cunningham. Unfortunately for the Sligo number nine, his effort just cleared the crossbar. A point was better than nothing as the visiting lead subsequently went out to eight points.

Sligo might wonder how one of the struggling sides in the league managed to score the last three points of the game with Foley firing over two frees and substitute, Eric Molloy, unlucky to see his rasper fly just over the crossbar. Perhaps it will be something to discuss in training during the week but this was all about getting two points and the table toppers on Saturday afternoon did this with a bit to spare.

Sligo; Daniel Lyons; Luke Nicholson, Eddie McGuinness, Evan Lyons; Luke Towey, Jack Lavin, Paul McNamara; Paul Kilcoyne, Pat Spillane (0-3); Cian Lally, Seán Carrabine (1-4 2fs), David Quinn; Finnian Cawley (0-2), Patrick O’Connor, Niall Murphy (C) (1-1f). Subs: Mark Walsh for Nicholson (h/t), Gerard O’Kelly Lynch for Quinn (49), Brian Cox for Lavin (61), Keelan Cawley for McNamara (64), D Conlon for Spillane (68),

Carlow: Ciaran Cunningham; Jonah Dunne, Mikey Bambrick, Shane Buggy; Seanie Bambrick, Jordan Morrissey, Shane Clarke; Niall Hickey, Finbarr Kavanagh; Josh Moore, Jamie Clarke (0-1), Darragh O’Brien; Colm Hulton (0-1), Darragh Foley (0-6 5fs), Ross Dunphy (0-1). Subs: Conor Doyle (0-1) for Brennan (h/t), Niall Hickey for Kavanagh (h/t), Mark Furey for Hickey (39), Eric Molloy (0-1) for Hulton (51), Cormac Lomax for Dunphy (64).

Referee: Barry Tiernan (Dublin).