Leinster club senior football championship quarter-final
Éire Óg 2-9
Newtown Blues 0-8
By Kieran Murphy
ÉIRE Óg bridged a 10-year gap to the last time a Carlow team won a senior club championship game in Leinster when they saw off the Louth champions in Drogheda.
Two first-half goals, one each from Murtough Ware and Benny Kavanagh, proved to be the match-winners as the Carlow champions produced an effective and workmanlike performance to ease their way through to the provincial semi-final.
Back in the 2008-09 season the Teach Asca side beat Kiltegan and Colmcille of Longford before making their exit at the hands of Rhode. Now they face Mullinalaghta of Longford who themselves saw off the Offaly club in Tullamore. No-one in Éire Óg will need reminding it was the same Longford side who ushered them out of Leinster in a preliminary game last year. The die is cast and Éire Óg will be looking to overturn the 2017 result in two weeks’ time.
They got almost everything right here against a side who could possibly be accused of looking to provoke the visitors in the opening half. Éire Óg were not for turning and a number of yellow cards for both sides focussed minds.
After an early Chris Blake point for Éire Óg, the home side hit back with a brace of scores from Robert Carr and Colm Judge. Éire Óg enjoyed a slight edge, particularly around the midfield area with Sean Gannon and Eoghan Ruth winning their individual and collective battles.
The sides were tied at 0-4 each going into the second quarter when a high ball into the edge of the small square was collected by Chris Blake. He made space for himself, spotted Murtough Ware in a good position and laid off the ball well. The big man held off his marker and found the net from close range.
Three minutes later, on 21 minutes, another high ball caused further panic close to the Newtown goal and this time Benny Kavanagh was on hand to slip the ball to the net.
The visitors created further chances before the half-time whistle which they will be disappointed they didn’t take. Leading 2-5 to 0-5 at the interval, there was still a job to be done.
The eventual winners lived dangerously for a spell in the second half as the rain pelted down. The Éire Óg back line had to defend a high ball in the opening minutes of the second period but did it well. Having not conceded a goal in the Carlow championship, Robbie Moore was coolness personified as the ball slid off a number of pairs of hands. Taking possession under his own posts his distribution was perfect and his side maintained their advantage.
Instead of conceding a score, Éire Óg came down the field and Simon Rea converted a free. Ross Dunphy followed up with a point from play. On 38 minutes Darragh O’Brien put nine points between them and only a calamity was going to lose the game for the Carlow side from there.
The Reds were in the mood and their hunger for victory was clearly visible when winning ball they were not entitled to even compete for.
Newtown became frustrated and towards the end Hugh McGinn and Andy McDonnell were both red carded.
By that stage it didn’t matter. Éire Óg retreated into their shell and saw out the game. They didn’t score for the final 14 minutes but they didn’t need to. It is hard to know whether that is a black mark against them or not. In their defence, they are through to a Leinster semi-final and, no doubt, they will take it from there.
Éire Óg: Robbie Moore; Fiach O’Toole, Mark Fitzgerald, Benny Kavanagh (1-0); Jordan Lowry, Paul McElligott, Jordan Morrissey (0-1); Eoghan Ruth, Sean Gannon (0-1); Kelvin Chatten, Simon Rea (0-2 frees), Ross Dunphy (0-1); Darragh O’Brien (0-3, frees), Murtough Ware (1-0), Chris Blake (0-1). Subs: Derek Hayden for Rea (45 mins), Niall Quinlan for Blake (47 mins), Cormac Mullins for Ware (56 mins), Mark Furey for Lowry (57 mins), Evan Kelly for Dunphy (62 mins).
Newtown Blues: Dean Martin; Fergal Donohoe, Stephen Morman, Paul Moore; Kevin Carr, Emmet Carolan, John Connolly; Andy McDonnell (0-2), John Kermode (0-1); Conor Branigan, Colm Judge (0-2, 0-1 free), Robert Carr (0-1); Ciaran Downey (0-2, 0-1 free), Ross Nally, Conor Moore. Subs: Ian Connor for Morman (25 mins), Hugh McGinn for Kermode (29 mins), Kermode for Moore (h/t), Jamie Kelly for K. Carr (39 mins), Thomas Costello for Nally (47 mins)