Sunday 20 May 2018

'We're headed for the Super 8s lads!' - Turlough O'Brien keen for Carlow to take aim at bigger fish

Carlow 2-17 Louth 0-12

Diarmuid Walshe (No. 21) wheels away in delight after slotting home Carlow’s first goal past Louth ’keeper Craig Lynch. Photo: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile
Diarmuid Walshe (No. 21) wheels away in delight after slotting home Carlow’s first goal past Louth ’keeper Craig Lynch. Photo: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

Afterwards, the two dressing rooms could hardly have been more different.

Someone from the Carlow backroom team had sourced a crate of beer that the squad enjoyed in the relative cool of the dressing room. Down the hall, manager Turlough O'Brien smiled at another job well done. This was more evidence that Carlow is indeed rising.

Conversely there was hardly a sound from the Louth changing room. Pete McGrath and his players were locked inside for around 45 minutes. The mourning had begun but it was very much house private.

When McGrath did emerge, he struggled to put sense on what he had seen. For the opening 35 minutes the teams looked well matched. They had been level four times with two points as big as the margin was ever allowed to get.

As the half wore on, there was a sense Carlow were finding their feet. Sean Murphy burst clear of the Louth cover only to see his shot come back off the crossbar. If anything the chance buoyed Carlow as they kicked the last three points of the half to take a 0-10 to 0-9 lead in at the break.

Still, there was no sign of what was to come. The second half almost began in disaster for Carlow when Robbie Molloy's short kick out was intercepted by William Woods. The debutant's attempted lob didn't come off though and after that, Carlow were hardly troubled.

Referee Niall Cullen speaks with Louth captain Andy McDonnell and Carlow captain John Murphy prior to the Leinster GAA Football Senior Championship Preliminary Round match between Louth and Carlow at O'Moore Park in Laois. Photo: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile
Referee Niall Cullen speaks with Louth captain Andy McDonnell and Carlow captain John Murphy prior to the Leinster GAA Football Senior Championship Preliminary Round match between Louth and Carlow at O'Moore Park in Laois. Photo: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

Sean Murphy, who was helped by a myriad of willing bodies, was in complete control at midfield. Carlow defended in numbers but attacked in waves too. In possession they were clever and patient and were willing to wait for the right chance to present itself. All the while Louth looked lost.

Patient

When Tommy Durnin struck a point for Louth on 57 minutes, it was scarcely believable that there was just a score in the game (0-14 to 0-11) such was Carlow's dominance. They moved four points clear before the floodgates opened.

More patient play eventually saw Sean Gannon put the excellent Diarmuid Walshe clear and finished cleverly to the net. Three minutes later they were at it again, this time Paul Broderick was on hand to finish.

Carlow's Paul Broderick kicks a point from a free. Photo: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile
Carlow's Paul Broderick kicks a point from a free. Photo: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

Gannon and sub Lee Walker would tack on late points while Louth's day went from bad to worse when Ryan Burns was shown a straight red card after a clash with Chris Crowley.

And when referee Niall Cullen called things to an end, McGrath was struggling to understand how it went so badly wrong.

"It was probably worse than I could have imagined, worse that then worst scenario I could have had," he said ruefully.

"I felt at half-time we were a point down and had played quite well in patches and had maybe let them back into the game in the last ten minutes of the first half. But we were a point behind with a breeze at our backs in the second half.

"In the early stages of the second half we maybe missed couple of gilt-edged scoring opportunities and once they got the first couple of points in the second half they got a grip on the game and started to win all the 50-50s and got the extra energy and the momentum. We weren't able to find any kind of response.

Emmet Carolan of Louth clashes with Carlow's Darragh O'Brien. Photo: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile
Emmet Carolan of Louth clashes with Carlow's Darragh O'Brien. Photo: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

"And the longer that second half went on the more and more disappointing and hard to look at it became. It was a really, really substandard and poor performance at this level of football for a team to play as badly in the second half."

For Carlow it was just their second win over Louth in championship football in 13 attempts and the result was in stark contrast to the hammering they took from he same opposition two years ago, when Louth had ten points to spare.

"The two teams are in different places," O'Brien said.

"They have lost a lot of players while we have retained the bulk of our panel through the last few years. We're progressing year on year now and we didn't want to be a one-hit wonder last year... We're headed for the Super 8s lads!" he smiled.

Róisín Corcoran, age 7, daughter of Carlow goalkeeping coach John Corcoran, in her Communion dress after the Leinster GAA Football Senior Championship Preliminary Round match between Louth and Carlow at O'Moore Park in Laois. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Róisín Corcoran, age 7, daughter of Carlow goalkeeping coach John Corcoran, in her Communion dress after the Leinster GAA Football Senior Championship Preliminary Round match between Louth and Carlow at O'Moore Park in Laois. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

And he insisted his players still want more as they prepare to take on so-called bigger fish, like Kildare in a Leinster SFC quarter-final.

"The team is motoring well,"O'Brien said. "We're determined to push on. We're not happy with getting promotion in the league and we didn't want to be a one-hit wonder last year and were guaranteed more championship football after today."

Scorers - Carlow: P Broderick 1-8 (5f), D Walshe 1-2, D Foley 0-2 (1f), S Gannon, E Ruth, D St Ledger (f), S Murphy, L Walker (f) 0-1 each. Louth: G McSorley 0-3, W Woods, R Burns (2fs), T Durnin 0-2 each, D Byrne, H Osborne J Craven 0-1 each

Carlow - R Molloy 7; S Redmond 7, C Lawlor 7, J Morrissey 7, D St Ledger 7, D Moran 7, D Walshe 8; S Murphy 8, C Moran 8; S Gannon 7, D Foley 8, E Ruth 7; P Broderick 8, D O'Brien 7, J Murphy 7

Subs: C Crowley 7 for Moran (31), L Walker for Morrissey, M Rennick for Walshe (both 64), K Nolan for Lawlor, B Kavanagh for Moran (both 68).

Louth - C Lynch 5; D Marks 5, E Carolan 5, J Craven 6; C Grimes 5, B Duffy 6, A Williams 5; A McDonnell 6, T Durnin 6; C Downey 6, D Byrne 6, G McSorley 7; W Woods 6, D Maguire 6, R Burns 5 SUBS: H Osborne 6 for Maguire (BC 22), R Holcroft 6 for Byrne (56), R Nally for Woods (62).

Ref - N Cullen (Fermanagh)

Irish Independent

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