Leinster Minor Club Football Tournament
By Kieran Murphy
FROM beginning to end, this Leinster minor football tournament quarter-final at Pairc Ui Bhriain in Carlow town on Friday sparkled as both sides threw caution to the wind and just played football.
There was so much to admire. A cracking goal, great points, end-to-end football, high fielding with referee Pat Kehoe keeping errant players in check without over-doing it. The reasonable-sized crowd loved it.
Baltinglass got off to the better start with Jack Hanlon scoring two points from play. Michael Murphy replied with one of his own for Fenagh but the Carlow champions conceded a soft goal when a high delivery from Tadgh O’Toole dipped under the crossbar and into the net.
Sean Smithers steadied Fenagh with a point from play but for large portions of the half Baltinglass looked likely winners. It was only in the last five minutes of the half when Fenagh really threatened. Trailing by five points any score would have been a help. Their goal had an element of fortune about it. A good passing movement looked set to break down in the big square but the referee spotted the slightest push on an onrushing forward who was making an effort to gather with only the keeper to beat. Sometimes you get them. Sometimes you don’t.
This time Fenagh got the decision and Cormac Lomax converted the resultant penalty. At half-time Fenagh were back in the game when trailing 1-7 to 1-5. Baltinglass could have been further ahead.
Early in the second half the game was turned on its head when Murphy converted a free and then got on the end of a brilliant passing movement before shooting low to the bottom left-hand corner of the net. Substitute Mark Foley added another point and from being two down Fenagh now led by three points.
Baltinglass hit back with the sweet striking John Keogh converting the fourth of his six frees over the hour. Hanlon added another point and there was pressure on Keogh with a difficult free which he successfully converted to level the game.
The tie could have gone either way. Chances were created but defences ruled. Going into the final quarter both sides saw efforts hit the crossbar and come back to be cleared by relieved defences. A Sean Smithers free restored the Fenagh lead.
With time ebbing away and the possibility of a draw looming, a well-worked Fenagh move saw the Carlow side go two clear when Murphy pointed from 35 metres.
Baltinglass hit back and Keogh shot over his sixth free. The Wicklow boys needed the ball from the kick-out but Fenagh went short, worked themselves up-field and while they didn’t score, the gambit played down the clock which was enough to see them advance.
Fenagh: Jack Hughes; Niall Whelan, Sean Cummins, James Cummins; Keagan Bradley, Padraig Hynes, Luke Bradley; Ciaran Whelan, Jamie McCabe (0-1); Cormac Lomax (1-0 pen), Michael Murphy (1-4, 0-2 frees), Sean Smithers (0-3, 0-1 free); Jack Treacy, Conor Treacy, Colin Byrne. Subs: Mark Foley (0-1) for C Treacy (17 mins), Jack Rowan for Bradley (51 mins), Shane Nolan for J Treacy (62 mins).
Baltinglass: William Rogers; Jason Steed, Christopher Grimes, Patrick Whelan; Cian Lee, Darragh Doyle, Colm Keogh; Karl Furlong, Sean Doody; Tadgh O’Toole (1-0), John Keogh (0-6 frees), Alan Barrett (0-1); Jason Sinnott, Jack Hanlon (0-4), Jack Fleming. Subs: John Donergan for Sinnott (22 mins), Wesley Balfe for Barrett (39 mins), Patrick Kirwan for Fleming (39 mins), Tom Keogh for Donergan (52 mins).
Referee: Pat Kehoe (Rathvilly)
NOTE Fenagh now play Athlone in the Leinster minor semi-final at Pairc Ui Bhriain. The Westmeath club beat Ardee of Louth in their game by 2-10 to 1-11.