North Meath/Athboy 21 – Carlow 3
About 20 minutes into the J2 Leinster Towns Plate final in North Meath/Athboy a Carlow supporter rang a sideline observer for a score update.
“The score in points was 6 – nil for North Meath. The penalty count was 11 – 3 against Carlow and the yellow card count was 2 – nil against Carlow,” he was told.
Carlow had lost the toss for home venue for the final but after the big semi-final against Kilkenny, they travelled the long trip to Kells in Meath with some confidence.
After their most disappointing outing of the season in this final, they must have travelled the even longer trip home, deeply frustrated.
From the start of the game, the penalty count against Carlow meant that the visitors could never build momentum. Evan Gordan was the first to the sin bin for high tackles. He was followed by Sam Dunne. The North Meath free-taker had a prodigious kick several times driving Carlow back 50 metres and more.
Down six points, Carlow was pressing to get off the mark, but on 30 minutes it was the home side who scored an excellent try. From his own 22, the scrumhalf broke right through the Carlow defence. He linked with his backs who managed to squeeze in at the corner.
The conversion was missed but North Meath was 11 – nil in front, a lead they kept till the interval.
In the second half, Carlow began to spread the ball wide and made progress. Ben Crotty kicked a penalty to close the gap to 11 – 3. But then a couple of incidents went against the visitors.
Chasing a kick ahead Crotty and Carbery were a couple of metres ahead of the chasing defenders but the ball was knocked forward with the line beckoning.
In another Carlow attack, Calum Murphy was badly fouled as he was about to score a try. The referee seemed to be giving a penalty try but then noticed the touch judge at the other side of the field was flagging.
A discussion followed which resulted in the home side getting a free out because of an alleged push by a Carlow player earlier in the move.
If either of these attempts had been scored and converted the score would have been 11-10 and Carlow had momentum. But instead, the concession of penalties continued and Carlow’s mistakes continued.
Twice Carlow kicked to the corner. On the first, the lineout was overthrown. Next, the ball was kicked dead.
Then came a killer blow. With the wind behind him, the North Meath full-back was getting close to the Carlow line with his clearance penalties. A quickly taken lineout seemed to catch the Carlow defence off guard and North Meath got in under the Carlow posts.
The conversion made it 18 – 3. This was followed by another North Meath penalty and there was no way back for Carlow. While Carlow made mistakes and suffered from a huge penalty onslaught North Meath/Athboy also showed that they deserved to the in the final.
Ben Crotty, Calum Murphy, Sean Quinlan, Ross Elmes, Sam Dunne, Liam Slater, Johnny Crossley, Williams Ganley, Evan Gordon, David Keppel, Rhys Roberts, Anthony Mannion, Capt, Conor Moore, Steve Treacy, Paddy Mackey.
Subs: James Nolan, Ross Byrne, Matthew Keogh, Rory Carbery Tom Bolger, Niall Finnegan, , Bobby Cope