By John Foley
AN entertaining intermediate championship tie which produced 25 scores was decided by a measured moment of class by the evergreen Marc Carpenter at Bro Leo Park, Tullow on Friday evening.
With the Blues trailing by a point as full time beckoned, a ball up the right wing was gathered by the former Carlow great who had only come on as a sub in the 55th minute. When a less experienced player might have froze and taken the wrong option, he cleverly held possession and stepped inside his marker before putting the ball on a plate for team-mate Mark Davis to crash to the net.
The goal was the killer blow to Clonmore’s hopes of recording what they could have claimed was a deserved victory.
But in truth the Wicklow-border men had more than enough opportunities to put this game beyond the reach of the Carlow town side during a second half in which they dominated. However a series of poor wides left their opponents in the game – something you can ill-afford to do against a team of O’Hanrahan’s experience.
It was clear from the off that a young Clonmore side were not going to be overawed by the challenge and they drove into the early exchanges. The first serious action saw Clonmore full-forward Con Murphy win a penalty. However David Mulvaney dragged the spot kick wide.
In a lively opening 10 minutes Clonmore pulled 0-3 to 0-1 ahead with Paddy Gahan scoring the pick of the bunch.
Then came the second penalty of the half when a long delivery found the Blues full-forward Daryl Hayden and as he attempted to turn in the square he was hauled to the ground by Willie Byrne. Danny Thompson made no mistake from the spot. He followed up with a free to push O’Hanrahan’s 1-2 to 0-3 ahead.
The momentum swung this way and that in the second quarter. First Clonmroe scored three points on the trot, thanks to a fine score from Cormac Connolly, an Anthony Byrne free and point from Mulvaney. In the middle of that period in the ascendancy, Con Murphy got out in front to win clean ball and he turned to race through on goal but he was denied by a fantastic save by Sean O’Gorman in the O’Hanrahan’s goal.
In the closing stages of the half, O’Hanrahan’s took over the play, scoring three points in succession before a carbon copy challenge on Daryl Hayden by Willie Byrne once again earned The Blues’ second penalty and once again Thompson rattled the back of the net.
This time Byrne was shown the black card as the half-time whistle sounded with the Carlow town side leading 2-5 to 0-6.
After the break O’Hanrahan’s tacked on two more points but on 34 minutes Clonmore exploded back to life with an excellent goal. Paddy Gahan passed to the attacking Tom Pollard in the centre and the lively wing back played a slide-rule pass which split the O’Hanrahan’s defence and found Cormac Connolly. He took the ball around the keeper to score and suddenly Clonmore trailed by just four – 2-7 to 1-6.
What followed was real championship fare as the exchanges raised a notch or two in intensity. Clonmore were getting on top around the middle and created a series of scoring chances but four times in a row they kicked poor wides.
However they made up for it somewhat in the 42nd minute when a positive Luke Connolly run made space for a pass to Con Murphy and he goaled from close range to make it a one-point game.
More points arrived tit for tat; Danny Thompson from a free for the Blues, Murphy with a free for Clonmore. Then Clonmore finally got it back level with Tom Pollard lofting a point under pressure – 2-8 apiece with seven minutes to go.
Con Murphy again took the fight forward, driving through to fist the lead score for Clonmore. Graham Delaney responded with a 45. Murphy again nudged Clonmore ahead with a point from a free and it looked like his side might hold on.
But Marc Carpenter had other ideas. Davis’s goal and a final point by James McGrath from a free sealed the win for the Blues who are up and running in this year’s intermediate race.
But Clonmore can be confident that with more performances like this they will have a big say in the championship race yet.
O’Hanrahan’s: Sean O’Gorman; Joe Doran, Brian Cawley, Chris Bermingham; Graham Power (0-1), Justin O’Brien, Jason Kenny; Colin Nolan, Owen O’Gorman; Ray Walker, James McGrath (0-2 frees), Mark Davis (1-2); Danny Thompson (2-3, 2-0 pens, 0-2 frees), Daryl Hayden (0-1), Graham Delaney (0-1, 45). Subs: Adam Doyle for B Cawley (37 mins), Kevin Power for O O’Gorman (37 mins), Marc Carpenter for A Doyle (55 mins), Sean Jones for J Kenny (60 mins)
Clonmore: Jordan Kane; Shane Murphy, Willie Byrne, Rory McKernan; Tom Pollard (0-1), John Kelly, Cormac Connolly (1-1); Enda McGrath, Anthony Byrne (0-1 free); Luke Connolly, David Mulvaney (0-1), Paddy Gahan (0-1); Larry Doyle, Con Murphy (1-4, 0-2 frees), Colm McGrath (0-1). Subs: Sean Doyle for W Byrne (black card, 30 mins), Matt Cullen for J Kelly (half time), Sean Tompkins for D Mulvaney (52 mins), Sean Deay for R McKernan (56 mins)
Referee: Billy Fanning (Ballon)