Saturday 10 February
Three from three as Leitrim are put to the sword
National Football League Division 4
By John Foley
THREE games, three wins. Carlow supporters could get used to this.
Turlough O’Brien’s men returned to home soil after league wins on the road in London and Limerick in recent weeks to record a commanding victory over Leitrim at Netwatch Cullen Park.
The Connacht side beat Carlow in Carrick-On-Shannon last term and when they met in the All-Ireland qualifiers last summer it was close for much of the game before Carlow sealed the win.
But on Saturday night the visitors were out-matched and the game was over as a contest as early as the 48th minute by which time Carlow had opened up a 2-8 to 0-4 lead.
Leitrim didn’t score between the 32nd and 63rd minutes of the game and it was this failure to trouble the Carlow posts which was their undoing. During this time the Carlow defence, led by Daniel St Ledger and Shane Redmond in particular, were strong in the tackle and covered runners well. Whatever little invention Leitrim tried was snuffed out at source and they never came close to troubling Robbie Molloy’s goal.
As for Carlow, two scoring bursts did most of the damage. By the eighth minute of the game they had 1-3 on the board and then between the 10th and 13th minutes of the second half they added a further 1-3. It was this ability to make the most of their purple patches which secured the points.
Carlow raced out of the traps with Brendan Murphy scoring a point inside a minute. Soon after, Eoghan Ruth was pulled to the ground as he closed in on goal. The penalty was awarded and John Murphy made no mistake from the spot, shooting low to the left of Leitrim goalkeeper Diarmuid McKiernan.
A Darragh Foley free and a point from play by Paul Broderick, after Foley had worked hard to retain possession, made it 1-3 to 0-1 after eight minutes. Leitrim’s Keith Beirne had opened his team’s account from a free.
The rate of scoring slowed considerably after that with plenty of play bogged down in the middle of the pitch. Leitrim’s Damien Moran scored a nice point and Carlow supporters had to wait until the 25th minute before Brendan Murphy lofted a beautiful score from the right wing.
He matched that effort with another cracker from similar range before half time to make it 1-5 to 0-4 to the hosts at the interval.
The rain came down in sheets during the break and the players took some time to readjust to the slippery surface as Carlow turned to face into the breeze.
There was a sense that Leitrim had an opportunity to drag themselves back into the game but that fizzled out pretty quickly at the end of the third quarter.
First a bout of pushing and shoving led to yellow cards for Leitrim’s Eoin Ward and Carlow’s Brendan Murphy as the crowd found their voice.
But Paul Broderick broke the tension by slotting a fantastic free from 45 metres against the elements to push Carlow five points ahead – 1-6 to 0-4.
Inside a minute Broderick had tapped over another free from close range and then, after the Tinryland man saw another effort from play come back off the post, captain John Murphy was quickest to react and he blasted the ball to the net for his team’s second goal of the night.
Brendan Murphy drove through the middle and added another fine point before being taken out late by Leitrim’s Matthew Murphy.
The big Rathvilly mad had to ship a bit of punishment, as usual, but his response was impeccable and on 20 minutes, after lovely interplay between Darragh O’Brien and Broderick, Murphy was again on hand to slot his fifth point of the night. That made it 2-9 to 0-4 with 15 minutes remaining.
There was only going to be one winner at this stage. Darragh Rooney scored Leitrim’s only second-half point on 63 minutes while Darragh O’Brien and a Paul Broderick free closed out the Carlow scoring.
Rooney was also shown a second yellow card before the end of the game.
And so Carlow come out of their opening batch of league games on full points. Next on the agenda is a trip to Dungarvan on Saturday week to take on Waterford. The visitors lost to Laois in O’Moore Park on Saturday night but they will be sure to put up a stern test in Fraher Field.
Carlow: Robbie Molloy; Dannny Moran, Shane Redmond, Conor Lawlor; Jordan Morrissey, Daniel St Ledger, Ciaran Moran; Brendan Murphy (0-5), Sean Murphy; Sean Gannon, Darragh Foley (0-1, free), Eoghan Ruth; Paul Broderick (0-4, 0-3 frees), Darragh O’Brien (0-1), John Murphy (2-0, 1-0 pen). Subs: Mark Rennick for D Moran (ht), Kieran Nolan for J Morrissey (53 mins), Jack Kennedy for D Foley (56 mins), Benny Kavanagh for J Murphy (60 mins), Cian Lawler for D O’Brien (65 mins), Lee Walker for S Gannon (68 mins)
Leitrim: Diarmuid McKiernan; Shane Quinn, Michael McWeeney, Matthew Murphy; Oisin Madden, Keith Keegan, Dean McGovern; Donal Wrynn, Colm Moreton; Conor Gaffney, Ryan O’Rourke, Brendan Gallagher; Damien Moran, Keith Beirne, Darragh Rooney. Subs: Jack Heslin for D McGovern (ht), Eoin Ward for C Moreton (ht), Niall McGovern for D Moran (50 mins), Darren Carberry for B Gallagher (53 mins), Aidan Flynn for D Cerberry (58 mins)
Referee: Alan Kissane (Waterford)