Wick­low hit by Car­low’s early storm

Bray People - - SPORT - at Net­watch Cullen Park

WICK­LOW’S par­tic­i­pa­tion in this year’s All-Ire­land foot­ball qual­i­fiers came to an abrupt end on Satur­day evening last when they suf­fered a ter­ri­bly dis­ap­point­ing de­feat to neigh­bours Car­low in Net­watch Cullen Park.

Talk of the un­avail­abil­ity of John McGrath and the de­par­ture from the Wick­low camp of Bal­li­na­cor’s Chris Mur­phy had dom­i­nated in the pre­vi­ous week, with spec­u­la­tion that Rath­new’s Jamie Snell might be in­tro­duced to the cor­ner-back po­si­tion to free up the dy­namic Ar­ran Mur­phy to push for­ward to the half-back line.

With McGrath likely to be miss­ing as well, it meant that Niall Gaffney would be the likely can­di­date for the 11 jersey but with the Bray man play­ing the game from mid­field. And that is how the team lined out with Snell, listed as a half-back, drop­ping to the cor­ner, Mur­phy mov­ing to the half-backs, Gaffney join­ing An­thony McLough­lin at mid­field and Rory Finn tak­ing up po­si­tion in at cen­tre-half for­ward from where he would switch back and forth from the edge of the square through­out the game.

Like­wise, Car­low had changes of their own. They started Barry John Mol­loy in place of Gra­ham Power in the half-for­ward line and brought in Donal Smithers for Paul Brod­er­ick at cor­ner-for­ward.

The story of this game is best told if looked at as a race be­tween two teams.

Car­low got out of the start­ing blocks in­stantly and were a long way down the road be­fore Wick­low left the start­ing line.

Full-back Daniel St. Ledger landed a mighty free from just out­side the 45 to get Car­low off the mark within the first minute. This was the be­gin­ning of a string of Car­low scores from long dis­tance frees taken from the hand by Dar­ragh Fo­ley. He knocked over five points in a row to leave Car­low lead­ing 1-6 to 0-1 with 20 min­utes played.

The goal came as the re­sult of a typ­i­cal burst through the mid­dle by big Bren­dan Mur­phy in the fifth minute. While there may have been some ques­tion mark around the man­ner of his push­ing de­fend­ers to one side to clear his path to goal, there was no an­swer to a blis­ter­ing ground shot which flew past Robert Lam­bert to the Wick­low net. Paul Cun­ning­ham had got the vis­i­tors off the mark with a pointed free af­ter 11 min­utes.

So, with 20 min­utes gone and Car­low lead­ing by eight points, things were look­ing bleak for Wick­low. They were gain­ing plenty of posses­sion around the mid­dle third of the field and mov­ing the ball quickly in pass­ing move­ments.

How­ever, they had no an­swers when they en­coun­tered the massed Car­low de­fence when nearer to goal. In fact, Car­low were reg­u­larly em­ploy­ing a for­ma­tion of just three for­wards in a cen­tral line from mid­field up thus leav­ing great space on the wings when they broke out of de­fence.

In the 20th minute Rob­bie Mol­loy brought off a great save from a Paul Cun­ning­ham goal bound shot by go­ing down to his left and push­ing the ball out for 45. Un­for- tu­nately, Robert Lam­bert was wide of the mark with re­sul­tant kick.

Ar­ran Mur­phy made a sally down the field on 24 min­utes and landed Wick­low’s first point from play. Oddly enough, Car­low had yet to score a point from play at this stage. This came with Bren­dan Mur­phy notch­ing his first af­ter 26 min­utes to re­store the gap to eight points.

The re­main­der of this half proved more pro­duc­tive for Wick­low. Rory Finn scored point num­ber three on 30 min­utes fol­lowed by an­other from Paul Cun­ning­ham two min­utes later. In the next Wick­low at­tack a re­bound from the upright fell to Paddy Byrne who set up Paul Cun­ning­ham to beat Rob­bie Mol­loy to score a badly needed Wick­low goal. Paul added a point from a free but Car­low fin­ished the half with points from Chris Blake and Bren­dan Mur­phy to leave four points be­tween the sides at the break.

Given their very slow start and their fail­ure to score for long pe­ri­ods in the first half Wick­low must have felt that they now had an ex­cel­lent chance es­pe­cially with what­ever wind as­sis­tance there was to come in the sec­ond half.

How­ever, Car­low had other ideas and started the half as they had fin­ished the first. Dar­ragh Fo­ley had two points from play in the first and fifth min­utes to ex­tend the lead back to six points. On eight min­utes Dar­ren Hay­den had the first of his two sec­ond half points but Gra­ham Power re­sponded with a Car­low mi­nor one minute later.

While Bren­dan Mur­phy con­tin­ued to have a dom­i­nant in­flu­ence, his mid­field part­ner Sean Gan­non was now storm­ing into the game and pro­ceeded to have a ‘Man of the Match’ per­for­mance un­til he re­ceived a black card near the end.

Wick­low’s main at­tack­ing ploy was to carry the ball for­ward at pace us­ing Dar­ren Hay­den and Mark Kenny, who was show­ing a marked im­prove­ment in this half. A fea­ture of this half was the num­ber of Robert Lam­bert’s sick­outs which were car­ry­ing over the mid­field play­ers and were in­vari­ably picked up by Car­low backs. A Paul Cun­ning­ham pointed free af­ter 17 min­utes was can­celled im­me­di­ately by a Bren­dan Mur­phy point.

The Rob­bie Mol­loy ver­sus Paul Cun­ning­ham duel re­sumed again when the Car­low cus­to­dian again brought off a great save from the Bray man, this time de­flect­ing the shot over the bar.

This was a cru­cial save as a goal would have a given Wick­low a great lift at this stage. Mark Kenny got on the score­board with a point in the 21st minute but Bren­dan Mur­phy again can­celled it im­me­di­ately. Dar­ragh Fo­ley added a point and Car­low were look­ing safe. Mark Kenny and Dar­ren added points from play while Paul Cun­ning­ham pointed a free to bring his per­sonal tally to 1-6.

At this stage Bren­dan Mur­phy re­ceived a black card to be fol­lowed by his col­league Sean Gan­non some min­utes later. How­ever, it made no dif­fer­ence to the game which Car­low were con­tent to fin­ish play­ing out the clock mov­ing the ball along the field to their goal­keeper who was in posses­sion at the fi­nal whis­tle.

Daniel St Ledger fin­ished the game as he be­gan by land­ing a 45 and a free from beyond in the fi­nal min­utes.

Wick­low will be very des­per­ately dis­ap­pointed that they took so long to get into this game. While Bren­dan Mur­phy and Dar­ragh Fo­ley were a huge in­flu­ence, so too was Paul Cun­ning­ham who fin­ished top scorer on the field. He con­ceiv­ably might have scored three goals.

Car­low scored nine points from frees, most of them from long dis­tance. That abil­ity plus Wick­low’s des­per­ate start ul­ti­mately de­cided this game.

Scor­ers: Car­low; Dar­ragh Fo­ley 0-8 (6f), Bren­dan Mur­phy 1-4, Daniel St Ledger 0-3 (3f), Chris Blake 0-1, Gra­ham Power 0-1.

Wick­low; Paul Cun­ning­ham 1-6 (4f), Mark Kenny 0-2, Dar­ren Hay­den 0-2, Ar­ran Mur­phy 0-1, Rory Finn 0-1.

Wick­low: Robert Lam­bert; Ciaran Hy­land, Paul McLough­lin, Ar­ran Mur­phy; Jamie Snell, Dean Healy, Stephan Kelly; Rory Finn, An­thony McLough­lin; Mark Kenny, Niall Gaffney, Dar­ren Hay­den; Paddy Byrne, Paul McLough­lin, Marc Len­non. Subs: Sam Thomp­son for Marc Len­non (HT), Danny Woods for Niall Gaffney (43 mins), Patrick O’Con­nor for Rory Finn (58 mins), John Crowe for Dar­ren Hay­den (67 mins), Michael O’Con­nor for Paddy Byrne (67 mins).

Car­low: Rob­bie Mol­loy; Bren­dan Ka­vanagh, Daniel St Ledger, Kieran Nolan; Gary Kelly, John Mur­phy, Hughie Ga­han; Bren­dan Mur­phy, Sean Gan­non; Alan Kelly, Dar­ragh O’Brien, Barry John Mol­loy; Donal Smithers, Dar­ragh Fo­ley, Chris Blake. Subs: Gra­ham Power for Dar­ragh O’Brien (BC 14 mins), Danny Mo­ran for Gary Kelly (53 mins), Brian Mur­phy for John Mur­phy (60 mins), John Mur­phy for Bren­dan Mur­phy (BC 64 mins), Brian Caw­ley for Sean Gan­non (BC 69 mins).

Ref­eree: P O’Sul­li­van (Kerry).

Wick­low’s Ciaran Hy­land gets away from Car­low’s Sean Gan­non.

Mark Kenny shakes hands with Car­low’s Kieran Nolan af­ter the game in Net­watch Cullen Park.

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