By Kieran Murphy
THERE will be bigger fish to fry later when Carlow’s national football league Division 4 campaign begins with a Netwatch Cullen Park show-down against Wicklow on the last Saturday of January. Yet the home side must feel they passed up a chance to record a win over one of the top teams in Leinster in this O’Byrne Cup tie at the IT Carlow grounds on Saturday.
Six points up with just 17 minutes remaining, they were totally on top and it was impossible to see anything but a home victory. Up to then they had played some enterprising football. Giving Paul Broderick more work to do by dropping back into the midfield area worked a treat and the Carlow ace also got himself forward to score four points in the first half as the home side went into a 0-7 to 0-4 interval lead.
While Jack Robinson’s first-minute point on the left into the goals at the town end looked to be setting a Kildare marker, Broderick hit back with two frees and a punched point at the other end. The scorer was also put through on goal by Daniel St Ledger but the experienced Carlow player was pinged for a foul on a defender. Darragh Foley, Niall Roche and Eoghan Ruth were the other Carlow scorers in the first half.
The home side also lost Sean Murphy to injury in the closing minutes of the half but Brendan Murphy’s introduction was more than an adequate replacement as the Rathvilly midfield went on to enjoy a great game.
Carlow were busy and alert in the third quarter. Kildare looked anything but a top side as Diarmuid Walshe landed two points and Broderick floated over a boomer from way out the field. At the other end, great defensive work saw Kildare’s Liam Power dispossessed. That moment brought a huge cheer from the watching Carlow crowd who were entitled to believe victory was imminent with three quarters of the game gone.
It is hard to know what happened next. Carlow certainly looked to sit on their lead and some of the keep-ball tactics which they have been criticised for in the past were visited again.
Twice in a lengthy spell without a Kildare player touching the ball, Carlow keeper Robbie Molloy was brought into the play. That might work against teams in the lower division but Kildare, sensing weakness, went for the jugular. When they turned Carlow over Jimmy Hyland, David Hyland and Adam Tyrell all raised white flags.
Carlow did have a chance to kill the game when, with less than eight minutes to go, Darragh Foley put in Broderick in a one-to-one with the Kildare keeper, Mark Donnelan, who quickly advanced. This time Broderick hurried his effort and pulled it to the left of the keeper but wide of the upright.
The let-off fed into Kildare’s renewed momentum and three points on the trot from Tyrell, David Hyland and John Treacy levelled matters. There was no let-up from the Lilywhites and a passing movement put in Chris Byrne. From close range he placed the ball to the left of the advancing Robbie Molloy. Earlier the Carlow net-minder had saved brilliantly to deny Tyrell. This time he was helpless.
Carlow did finish the game in the Kildare half but the damage was done.
Frustrating yes, but perhaps it is better to absorb lessons now rather than in the white heat of battle when the league means everything to counties like Carlow.
Kildare: Mark Donnellan; Kevin Flynn, Eoin Bateman, Liam Healy; Johnny Byrne, David Hyland (0-2), Con Kavanagh (0-1); Tommy Moolick, Paul Cribbin; Chris Byrne (1-0), Paddy Brophy, Liam Power; Jack Robinson (0-1), Daniel Flynn, Jimmy Hyland (0-2, 0-1 free). Subs: Neil Flynn (0-1 free) for Brophy (33 mins) Aaron Masterson for Moolick (h/t), Paschal Connell for Robinson (h/t), Keith Cribben for Kavanagh (40 mins), Adam Tyrell (0-2) for Byrne (40 mins), Darragh Ryan for D Flynn (40 mins), John Treacy (0-1) for Power (61 mins), Byrne for J. Hyland (67 mins), Byrne for Hyland (67 mins),
Carlow: Robbie Molloy; Mikey Bambrick, Shane Redmond, Niall Roche (0-1); Josh Moore, Ray Walker, Simon Doyle; Sean Murphy, Conor Doyle; Diarmuid Walshe (0-2), Darragh Foley (0-1) Eoin Ruth (0-1); Daniel St Ledger, Paul Broderick (0-5, 0-3 frees), John Murphy. Subs: Brendan Murphy for S Murphy (25 mins), Jamie Clarke for C Doyle (57 mins), Robbie Kane for Ruth (67 mins), Mark Furey for Foley (70 mins)
Referee: Barry Tiernan (Dublin)