Glynn picks his moment
Wicklow ace's crucial strike helps see off Dempsey's Barrowsiders at first hurdle
TRY as they might, there was no respite for Carlow football in O'Moore Park yesterday as they crashed out of the Leinster championship at the first hurdle against a Wicklow side, whose eventual 10-point margin of victory flattered them.
The Barrowsiders will feel they should have at least been in the shake-up going into the final quarter as just five minutes after the restart, Simon Rea got a rare glimpse of goal, but his shot was excellently saved by Mervyn Travers.
A goal at that point would have brought Luke Dempsey's side, who enjoyed a numerical superiority at the time, level. However, Wicklow turned defence into an attack that finally ended with Tony Hannon converting a superb '45' from out near the touchline that saw Wicklow stretch their lead to four points.
Carlow would squander another goal chance just before the hour mark and with their forwards struggling to secure possession, they were destined to pay the ultimate price for their profligacy, which saw them hit 12 wides in total.
Leighton Glynn was hugely influential after the restart. He put five between the sides and then swapped points with the superb Brendan Murphy before the game's defining moment.
Carlow were looking ragged in the full-back line, despite having an extra man, and in the space of 30 seconds their Leinster championship was over. Glynn snuck in for a goal to put eight between the sides and, in the immediate aftermath, Murphy appeared to pick up a straight red card for a bout of verbals with referee Gearoid O Conamha.
It went from bad to worse for Dempsey's side as the previously accurate Simon Rea missed frees at crucial times. And while JJ Smith and Daniel St Ledger managed scores after being introduced, Wicklow had momentum on their side as Hannon, Glynn and Seanie Furlong caused untold trouble to an exposed Carlow defence.
With progress to a date with Westmeath then secured, Wicklow grabbed a third goal with sub JP Dalton getting in on the scoring act to rub salt into the wounds.
And while the referee had little impact on the final result, O Conamha's performance will certainly come under scrutiny. The Galway official was fussy about the hand-pass and about where frees should be taken from, but in those incidences, he was simply carrying out the mandate given to officials by April's Congress.
However, dishing out 16 yellow cards and three reds in a game that was largely played in the right spirit was excessive.
In the run up to the match, all eyes were on prodigal son Tommy Walsh on his return to the Carlow shirt. He was among those sent off and can have little arguments about either yellow card but in the first half he showed why he had been such an integral part of the Wicklow set-up, before eventually running out of steam.
Overall, the first half went along the lines of what was predicted in many previews. Carlow, in the shape of Walsh and particularly Brendan Murphy, were in complete control in midfield, while Wicklow had a pronounced edge going forward.
Former AFL starlet Murphy finished the first half with two points to his name, though he could have managed at least four, but for some wayward shooting. Such was Murphy and Walsh's superiority that Mick O'Dwyer looked to make changes shortly after the first quarter had expired. The Waterville man had opted to start Don Jackman in the engine room, but he found the going too tough and he was replaced by Dalton on 21 minutes.
Likewise, Luke Dempsey made a change to his defence, with Shane Redmond replacing Liam Murphy as the Barrowsiders fell three points to no score behind after just seven minutes, despite having a number of chances to open the scoring.
Wicklow's greater economy going forward was prevalent throughout the opening half and when they goaled three minutes before the break to put them five points to the good, they looked to have snapped the life out of a game Carlow side.
Once again, poor defensive work was to blame as Paul Earls wriggled away from three defenders to scuff the ball past James Clarke to the net.
However, there was more drama remaining, when after Johnny Kavanagh had reduced the gap to four, Wicklow found themselves down to 14 men with Nicky Mernagh picking up his second yellow card for a foul on Walsh.
Simon Rea landed his third point of the day to conclude the first half and leave Wicklow 1-6 to 0-6 ahead at the break.
Wicklow managed the first score of the half through an excellent effort from the raiding Patrick McWalter. However, his day was to have an unfortunate end as he was stretchered off the field with a reported dislocated kneecap.
Carlow's wing back Alan Curran also got in on the scoring act, kicking three second half points, but the final exchanges were little more than cosmetic as Wicklow set up a showdown with struggling Westmeath to let their supporters dream of another long summer.
SCORERS -- Wicklow: L Glynn 1-4, T Hannon 0-6 (0-1f, 0-1 '45), P Earls, JP Dalton 1-0 each, S Furlong 0-2 (0-1f), P McWalter 0-1.
Carlow: B Murphy, A Curran, S Rea (0-3f) 0-3 each, J Kavanagh (0-1f), JJ Smith, D St Ledger 0-1 each.
Wicklow -- M Travers 8; S Kelly 7, D O hAnnaidh 7, A Byrne 6; P McWalter 7, B McGrath 6, D Hayden 6; J Stafford 7, D Jackman 5; L Glynn 9, T Hannon 8, N Mernagh 5; D Odlum 6, S Furlong 7, P Earls 7 Subs: JP Dalton 7 for Jackman (21), S Canavan for McWalter (52 ), P Dalton for Odlum (54 ).
Carlow -- J Clarke 6; P Murphy 7, L Murphy 6, B Kavanagh 6; A Curran 8, J Hayden 7, P McElligott 6; B Murphy 9, T Walsh 7; S Gannon 6, D Foley 6, M Carpenter 6; S Rea 6, J Murphy 5, J Kavanagh 6. Subs: S Redmond 6 for L Murphy (30), JJ Smith 7 for Foley (34), D St Ledger 6 for J Murphy (44), P Cashin 6 for Hayden (53 ).
Ref -- G O Conamha (Galway)