By John Shirley
Cill Dara 21 Carlow 18
Carlow got off to a disappointing start in the Leinster League losing 21 – 18 in a match that had an amazing final five minutes.
As full time approached Carlow looked safe with the wind behind them and sitting on a 15 – 9 lead. Then the referee penalised a Carlow forward for what he deemed a deliberate knock-on. Cill Dara kicked to the corner.
Carlow actually robbed the ball on the Cill Dara throw but failed to clear their lines. Cill Dara swung the ball wide and their full back Ronan O Neachtain got in for a try to make the score Cill Dara 14 Carlow 15. Now it was down to the conversion.
The Cill Dara Number 12 Jack Ryan slotted the ball between the posts to put his side 1 point in front.
From the kick off Cill Dara were penalised for lying on the ball just inside their own half. Would Carlow captain Tommy Ratahi kick for the corner or chance the long range kick for the posts? He called up Peter Hennessey, fresh from his football exploits with Tinryland, who landed a magnificent kick over the bar. Carlow were now 2pts ahead at 18-16 and it was well into stoppage time.
What happened next will cause nightmares for Carlow coaches and team alike. Carlow allowed Cill Dara to collect the kick-off. The Curraghsiders again ran in a try in the corner. This time the kicker failed to covert but the game was won and lost as time had run out.
The irony of the game was that facing a strong wind in the 1st half the Carlow line was rarely threatened. The young Carlow backline tackled all comers and indeed did everything but score themselves in this 1st half. Lyons, Slater, Ratahi and Shirley were doing good stuff in the pack.
The Cill Dara 1st half scoring was confined to 3 well kicked penalties from outhalf Peter O Neill. With the wind behind them for the 2nd half this 9- 0 hurdle looked entirely surmountable for the Oakpark side.
Within 4 minutes Carlow had scored the game’s first try. After some excellent handling twice across the backline, Peter Hennessey was stopped close to the line. The ball was recycled and Wes Shirley burst through for the touchdown. The conversion was narrowly wide.
The next 10 minutes belonged to Carlow. James Nolan came on made a lot of ground with the ball only to pass it to enemy hands on a couple of occasions. Winger Seamus Curran seemed to have rounded off a lovely backs score near the corner but was judged to knocked on in the act of scoring. He, and others, believed it to be a valid touchdown.
However within three minutes Carlow had crossed the Cill Dara line again. This time centre Caomhan Brennan, got the referees approval. Peter Henessey added the points and Carlow were 12 – 9 in front. A Hennessey penalty stretched the lead to 15 – 9 and this held this that final fatal five minutes.
While they were gutted at the last minute loss the Carlow coaches were happy that the team in general had fronted up well to their opponents. The team put the failure to close out the game to inexperience. They will be hoping that lessons will have been learned for the home match against Portarlington next week.
Cill Dara 22 Carlow 22
In the Junior 2 game against Cill Dara it was Carlow’s turn to come from behind and snatch an unlikely draw in the dying moments. In a game strewn with errors but also with moments of skill, Cill Dara led at the interval by 17 (3 tries and a conversion) to Carlow’s 5 (an unconverted try by Adam Dowling)In the second half Carlow pressed Cill Dara and early on twice crossed the line without scoring.
A determined Ed Keating eventually burst through for an unconverted try to make the score 17 -10. Some good runs from Tom Bolger, Gearoid Dunbar and Rudi Corcoran brought Carlow up to the Cill Dara line. Anthony Mannion got through to score close to the posts. A conversion would make it a drawn match.
Fitzhenry’s first attempt actually went over but the referee had blown for an early charge from Cill Dara. The second effort was wide and Carlow were 2 points down with only minutes left. This was stretched to 7 points when they leaked an unconverted try in the corner.
However Carlow retrieved the ball after the kickoff. The ball found its way to fullback Adam Dowling who chased his own grubber kicked ahead. As the Cill Dara full back waited to collect, the ball took a wicked hop over his head.
Dowling ran around him and touched down for an unlikely try. Fitzhenry converted. The final whistle blew. Carlow had secured an unlikely but an overall deserved draw.
Peter Hennessey, Seamus Curran, Fionan Burke, Caomhan Brennan, Sam Dunne , Harry Hennessey, Alex Crossley, Larry McGrath, Conal Slater, John Lyons, Thomas Whitney, Wes Shirley, Niall Bermingham, Chris Challe, Thomas Ratahi (capt).
Subs, Mark Slye, James Nolan, Alan Byrne, Gearoid Dunbar, Adam Dowling.
Adam Dowling, Terry Jones, Rudi Corcoran, Jack Hickie, Niall O Malley, Tom Bolger (capt), Gearoid Dunbar, Mark Slye, Evan Gordon, Neil Slater, Zac Fitzhenry, Anthony Mannion, Dylan Keogh, Ed Keating, Gavin Whitney.
Sub Peter Cassidy.