Murphy goal proves vital
A fisted goal from Carlow left half-forward John Murphy in the 49th minute was the score which separated the home county and Longford in this dogged NFL Division 4 opening tie before an attendance of about 1,000 at Dr Cullen Park yesterday.
Carlow were holding a slim 0-7 to 0-6 lead when a high centre from midfielder Brendan Murphy was met by his namesake John, who rose above Longford goalkeeper Damien Sheridan to raise the green flag.
It was very much score for score throughout a scrappy opening half in which Carlow had more of the play but missed too many scoring chances. In that opening half Carlow benefited from the moving of Sean Gannon from the half-forwards to midfield, where the Eire Og clubman had a pronounced influence.
At half time the sides were tied 0-4 each and Carlow then edged 1-7 to 0-6 ahead courtesy of Murphy's goal. But Longford points from full-forward Brian Kavanagh and full-back Diarmuid Masterson halved the deficit.
With 10 minutes remaining, a Francis McGee point from a Longford free left Carlow clinging to a 1-8 to 0-10 lead. But a brace of points from frees by JJ Smith provided breathing space for the home county as they clinched a deserved win, despite the fact that Longford forced three successive '45s' in search of a levelling goal.
While Luke Dempsey will be happy with victory over the county he formerly managed, the downside of the victory was that Carlow shot an ugly 12 wides, to eight for Glenn Ryan's men.
Scorers -- Carlow: JJ Smith 0-5 (5f), J Murphy 1-0, M Carpenter 0-2, Brendan Murphy, S Gannon, S Rea (f) 0-1 each. Longford: F McGee 0-5 (5f), J Martin 0-2 (2f), D Keenan, B Kavanagh, D Masterson 0-1 each.
Carlow -- J Clarke; M Nolan, L Murphy, K Nolan; A Curran, J Hayden, T Bolger; B Murphy, K Doyle; S Gannon, S Rea, J Murphy; J J Smith, M Carpenter, D St Ledger. Subs: Brian Murphy for Doyle (23); E McCormack for J Murphy (66).
Longford -- D Sheridan; S Mulligan, D Masterson, S Hannon; D Brady, E Williams, J Nally; K Smyth, B McElvaney; D Kennan, F McGee, K Mulligan; C Mimnagh, B Kavanagh, J Martin. Sub: D Reilly for Martin (52).
Ref -- B Tyrell (Tipperary).