By Kevin Regan
Carlow u21 footballers came out on the wrong side of an absolute cracker against Wicklow in the Leinster U21 Football Championship at I.T Carlow last night.
A first minute goal from captain Diarmuid Walsh gave Carlow the ideal start, but Wicklow battled their way back into the game with goals from Pat O Connor and Mark Lennon.
A crucial moment arrived just on the stroke of half time when Wicklow were awarded a very dubious penalty. Although Gary Allen made no mistake to give Wicklow a flattering 3-6 to 1-7 lead at the interval.
When Cathal McGee punched in a 4th Wicklow goal on the 40 minute mark, it looked like Carlow would cave in, but to their credit they battled back from nine points down, thanks to two opportunistic goals from Tinryland man Niall Lowry.
Points from Shane Webb and Conor Brien cut the gap to the minimum approaching injury time and in the 62nd minute Diarmuid Walsh was handed a chance to level the game from a 50 yard free.
A huge left footed drive from the Captain sailed between the posts and amazingly Carlow were level.
However there was time for more drama.
Wicklow again were awarded a relatively soft free which Allen converted and seconds later towering midfielder Sean McGraynor put the game beyond doubt with a sucker punch goal on the counter attack.
The five point margin is by no means a fair reflection on what was a fantastic game of open football and although the search for a first win in this championship since 2012 goes on, a distraught Carlow side can hold their heads high with many talented players destined to make the senior ranks.
Carlow: Craig White; Anthony Byrne, John Murphy, Cathal Kelly; Mark Rennick, Mark Furey, Conor O’Toole; Kelvin Chatten, Dion Wall; Diarmuid Walshe (1-2), Conor O Brien (0-3), Lar O Sullivan (0-1); Donal Smithers (0-2), Darren Lunney (0-2), Niall Lowry (2-2).
Subs: Colin Byrne for Mark Furey, Shane Webb (0-1) for Wall (black card), Conor McGrath for O’Toole, Hugh Nolan for Lunney