TULLOW’S seconds team at Oakpark on Sunday must have felt like the French team in 2018 after they lost to Johnny Sexton’s last-second drop goal.
With three minutes left on the clock Tullow were leading 19-7. They had seen off numerous Carlow challenges and were now comfortably in the Carlow half. However Carlow outhalf Peter Hennessey picked up a lose ball and jinked around a couple of would-be tacklers. Next he kicked the ball over the heads of the remaining defenders, chased it himself and touched down beside the posts for a fine individual try. Michael O Sullivan’s conversion brought the score to 14-19 in favour of the visitors.
From the restart the ball found its way to Carlow left winger Stephen Crowe. He took off like a hare, beat the first man on the inside and the next on the outside to score in the corner. Now we had a drawn game at 19 all but with a difficult conversion from the touchline to come.
Up stepped scrumhalf O Sullivan who put the ball sailing between the posts. And the referee blew the final whistle. Tullow players and supporters were in shock.
Overall if the game was based on possession and territory Carlow should have won, but it’s scores that count and until the last-gasp tries Carlow found scores hard to come by.
Tullow got the first seven points of the game on 10 minutes when prop Aaron O’Byrne barged over from five metres. Carlow levelled on 30 minutes when Graham Brennan intercepted and ran the length of the field. Both sides tried and missed penalties before, on the stroke of half time, Tullow’s John Hanbidge broke through Carlow tackles to score near the posts.
Carlow were camped in the Tullow 22 for much of the second half but seemed unable to score. Carlow’s lineouts had become shambolic but their scrums stood firm against the heavy Tullow eight.
Carlow prop Luke Curran was held up from scoring, as were Carlow wingers. Then Tullow broke out and winger Tom Eustace finished off a good move to score far out. Aidan Doyle missed the conversion but with his team 19-7 ahead and less than 10 minutes remaining the miss did not seem to matter.
That was until Carlow’s late, late Houdini act.
Carlow: Tom Bolger, Graham Brennan, Conal Brennan, Rob Browne, Stephen Crowe, Peter Hennessey, Michael O Sullivan, Luke Curran, Mark Slye. Philip Lonergan, Gavin Whitney, Michael Sheeran, Alan Doyle, Steve Treacy, Aaron Forbes. Subs: JD Swayne, Zach Fitzhenry, Conor Treacy, Lorcan Gill, Brian O’Mahony
Tullow: Paddy McCall, Tom Eustace, Philip Timmons, Philip Deane, Ryan O’Sullivan, Paul Canavan, David Tobin, Aaron O’Byrne, Jordan Leybourne, Louis Kilcoyne, Joe Waters, Paddy Kehoe, Cian Doyle, Aidan Murphy, John Hanbidge, Subs: Gary Hade, Keith Hickey, Adam Doyle, Matthew Mulhall.