Carlow comfortably eased into the last eight of the 2023 Bank of Ireland Towns Cup with a 57 – 13 point win over visiting New Ross at Oakpark on Sunday.
John Shirley Reports from Oakpark
Despite the wide gap in the final scoreline, the county Wexford side was competitive for much of the match and was leading 13 points to 12 between the 29th and 40th minutes of the first half. But once Carlow got their nose 19 to 12 points in front in the 40th minute, they bossed the second half scoring another 38 points without reply.
Carlow started strongly and playing against the wind had registered their first of nine tries in the 4th minute.
A poor New Ross clearance was collected by fullback Ben Crotty. He ran, recycled the ball and after several thrusts at the New Ross line, the ball came to Calum Murphy who touched down unopposed in the right corner. Eight minutes later Carlow centre Sean Quinlan burst through weak tackling in midfield and scored under the posts. Ben Crotty’s conversion gave the home side a 12-nil lead.
Carlow then went through a jittery period making errors and conceding penalties. Three successive penalties brought the visitors into the Carlow 22 and from here wing forward James Fitzgerald drove over for a try which was converted by David Thorpe. Thorpe followed this with two well-struck penalties in the 24th and 29th minutes.
Carlow regrouped and in a prolonged assault was awarded a penalty near the visitor’s goal line. Wes Shirley took a quick tap and got the ball out to Calum Murphy via an Alan Owen knock pass for Carlow’s 3rd try.
The 2nd half was all Carlow. New Ross’s strategy was to send once-off runners up the centre. This was stopped by tackles from Carlow centres Dan Crotty and Quinlan supported by John Murphy and Paddy Mackey from the back row. The visitors seemed to have no plan B.
Carlow’s first try of the second period was touched down by Evan Gordon after Wes Shirley made a 30-metre break. The next try was the best of the game. Ben Crotty made ground up the right touchline. The ball was taken on by Conor Treacy, Jeff McDermott and Paddy Mackey for Dan Crotty to touch down under the posts. Next came a Jeff McDermott try from a quick tap penalty after John Murphy and Paddy Mackey made the earlier breaks.
Next came Sean Quinlan’s second try after he ran onto a Dan Crotty chip ahead. Finally, the home side ran in two late tries, one from the strong running Caomhan Brennan and the last try was again by captain Dan Crotty who took a good pass from Peter Hennessey who came off the replacements bench.
Six of the nine tries were converted by full-back Ben Crotty who along with his brother Dan were stand-out performers for the home team. Others who had prominent roles, especially in defence, included John Murphy and Paddy Mackey in the back row and Wes Shirley and John Lyons in the engine room.
Carlow was initially under pressure in the scrums but this was rectified to an extent by the introduction of 18-year-old Tadgh Ronan as tight head.
Too Many Penalties
On the negative side, Carlow conceded far too many penalties, nine in the first half and eight in the second. This compared to the visitors who conceded four in each half.
New Ross, who are a division below Carlow in the Leinster League, beat Edenderry in the previous round of the Town’s Cup. Carlow will now go on to meet Tullamore in Tullamore on 19th March next. Tullamore has reached the quarter-final by beating Longford away and Skerries at home.