Brendan Murphy sees red in another game but Carlow do just enough to earn one-point win
Carlow had Brendan Murphy sent off for the second successive game as they edged a turgid defensive battle with London at McGovern Park in Ruislip.
The Barrowsiders midfielder, who successfully appealed his dismissal during the Leinster SFC quarter-final defeat to Dublin, picked up two yellow cards in the space of a minute during the second-half.
By that stage London were already down to 14, with Jarlath Branagan picking up a second booking on 53 minutes following a classic ‘handbags’ skirmish with Sean Gannon.
In total there were 12 cards brandished by referee Niall Cullen in a fussy performance by the Fermanagh official.
“There was a lot of cards and, look, I don’t know what to say about cards, we just have to look at that situation,” said Carlow manager Turlough O’Brien.
“I didn’t see Brendan’s one. It wasn’t a dirty game at all, it was played in a very sporting manner, as I’d expect of the two teams.
“I just think the rules need to be tweaked because it is very difficult for referees and linesmen to make a call on these decisions and the difficult ones they have to make.”
The free-taking prowess of Paul Broderick and Darragh Foley got Carlow over the line, but this was not a game that will last long in the memory.
O’Brien’s charges were ultra-defensive for large spells, resembling a side frightened of losing instead of intent on chasing victory. Even when playing with a strong breeze at their backs during the opening 35 minutes they maintained their defensive system.
Despite a 16-minute scoreless period, Carlow led 0-7 to 0-5 at the interval thanks to three late points, Brendan Murphy grabbing the pick of those.
They had extended their lead to three points by the 42nd minute and London keeper Gavin McEvoy kept them in the contest when he produced a fantastic point-blank save to deny Danny Moran.
The Exiles had Branagan harshly sent off moments later but Eoin Murray’s point from the sideline gave them hope, as did Murphy’s dismissal for grabbing Owen Mulligan around the neck.
Tyrone legend Mulligan teed up London-born skipper Liam Gavaghan to make it a one-point game with five minutes left, but Broderick gave Carlow breathing space with his sixth point and they played keep-ball in the closing stages to secure a nervy victory.
“This is our fourth championship game in a row and that hasn’t happened for a long, long time in Carlow,” said O’Brien.
“It’s a great place for us to be.”
Scorers – Carlow: P Broderick 0-6 (5fs), D Foley 0-3 (2fs), S Murphy, B Murphy, D O’Brien, J Murphy 0-1 each.
London: R Mason (4fs), L Gavaghan (1f) 0-4 each, E Murray 0-2, J Branagan, A Moyles 0-1 each.
Carlow: R Molloy 7; C Crowley 7, S Redmond 6, C Lawlor 6; D Moran 7, D St Ledger 7, G Kelly 6; B Murphy 5, S Murphy 8; E Ruth 5, D Foley 7, A Kelly 6; P Broderick 8, S Gannon 7, J Murphy 6.
Subs: BJ Molloy 6 for Lawlor (30), C Moran 6 for Ruth (35, bc), D O’Brien 6 for A Kelly (54), K Nolan 6 for G Kelly (69).
Laois: G McEvoy 6; P Butler 7, Ciaran Dunne 7, C O’Neill 7; J Branagan 5, R Jones 6, Colin Dunne 6; M Carroll 6, C Og Greene 7; E Murray 6, L Gavaghan 8, M Gottsche 8; R Mason 7, O Mulligan 6, K Butler 6. Subs: K Hughes 6 for Carroll (ht), D Carrabine 6 for Colin Dunne (ht), M McGirr 6 for Jones (69), A Moyles 6 for Murray (70), C Doran 6 for O’Neill (70).
Ref – N Cullen (Fermanagh)