Carpenter nails late winner

Carlow 0-14 Offaly 1-10

To the losers, Offaly, a long and idle summer.

The fine line between the two was seldom more knife-edge than in Dr Cullen Park, Carlow, on Saturday.

On a dull and windy afternoon, two well-matched teams went at it with plenty of energy and honest endeavour. Even if the football fare wasn’t of the highest calibre, the estimated crowd of 13,000 still got their money’s worth in a game that ended in pure theatre.

Playing with the strong wind at their backs, Carlow looked the better side in a very scrappy opening half, at the end of which they led 0-7 to 0-4, thanks to a late three point surge.

Indicative of the standard of football in that half, however, was that all the Carlow points came from dangerous corner-forward Simon Rea, all but one from placed balls, while two of the Offaly four came from their free-taker, the almost equally-dangerous Niall McNamee.

In between there was not a whole lot of note to report, a flurry of handpasses on one side, ball handed over, flurry of handpasses on the other, same again.

Mind you, the game wasn’t helped by the erratic and often baffling performance of the man in the middle, Aidan Mangan from Kerry.

Given the strength of the wind, Offaly would have been pleased enough at the break, and within 15 minutes, thanks in the main to a hat-trick from young McNamee, they were level at 0-8 apiece.

In the driving-seat at that stage, they should have taken it on from there, but, much as they had done in their Leinster quarter-final loss to Wexford, Carlow came back, showed thatthey are certainly not lacking in backbone.

With the towering Walsh duet, Patrick and Thomas, winning the midfield battle from the highly-rated Ciaran McManus/Alan McNamee combination, Carlow came surging back.

Corner-forward Brian Kelly, a late call-up, who had earlier hit three wides, suddenly found his shooting boots, and two fine points from him, another from wing-forward Brian Carberry, a superb shot from long-range by corner-back Cormac McCarthy, yet another from Rea, his only score of the second half, and Carlow were back in control, 0-13 to 0-8.

With strong support from the local crowd, it should have been game over, a matter of shutting up shop for the final five minutes.

“We felt we should have beaten Wexford,” reckoned Carlow manager Liam Hayes. “I thought we left that one behind us. We didn’t want that to happen again tonight.”

Well, it nearly did. Offaly had points from McNamee and substitute James Coughlan, then a goal from a superbly-struck McNamee penalty that was somewhat fortunately awarded. That tied the game, 0-13 to 1-10, as we veered into injury-time.

Mr Mangan added almost five minutes and the ball swung from end to end, defences scrambling madly to prevent a clear shot at either end. Finally, in the fourth added minute, a moment of genius from Carlow full-forward Mark Carpenter, one of the heroes in the loss to Wexford (if that isn’t a contradiction in terms?).

A long ball out of defence by corner-back Paul Cashin was taken up the right wing by Carpenter. From wide right, from distance, across the teeth of the wind, the ball sailed true, and through the uprights. Glory Carlow, championship death for Offaly.

Scorers: Carlow: S. Rea 0-8 (0-6 frees); M. Carpenter 0-2; B. Kelly 0-2; C. McCarthy, B. Carberry, 0-1 each. Offaly: N. McNamee 1-6 (1-0 pen 0-4 frees); J. Reynolds, N. Coughlan, M. Daly, J. Coughlan, 0-1 each.

CARLOW: J. Brennan; C. McCarthy, L. Murphy, P. Cashin; J. Hayden, W. Power, R. Sinnott; P. Walsh, T. Walsh; B. Carberry, J. Byrne, P. Hickey; S. Rea, M. Carpenter, B. Kelly. Subs: J. Kehoe (Power inj. 7); P. Kelly (Sinnott 35+1); R. Walker (Hickey 55); K. Pender (Kelly 65).

OFFALY: P. Kelly; C. Daly, C. Evans, S. Brady; J. Keane, S. Sullivan, K. Slattery; C. McManus, A. McNamee; J. Reynolds, M. Daly, N. Coughlan; C. Quinn, P. Kellaghan, N. McNamee. Subs: J. Coughlan (Daly 52); T. Deehan (Kellaghan 63).

Referee: A. Mangan (Kerry).

More in this section

Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day. PS ... We would love to hear your feedback on the section right HERE.

Sport
Newsletter

Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up
Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day. PS ... We would love to hear your feedback on the section right HERE.