Tullow were the only local side to prevail in the Provincial Towns Cup yesterday. They beat Newbridge 60- Nil, while Carlow lost to Dundalk by 37-10 and Wicklow beat Kilkenny 12-11.
Report By John Shirley
Carlow 10 Dundalk 37.
For the first 35 minutes of last Sunday’s Towns Cup match at Oakpark Carlow matched their opponents Dundalk, who hail from two divisions higher in the Leinster League, blow for blow.
On a pitch suffering from a morning’s rain, Carlow were strong in the scrums and lineouts and were coping fairly comfortably with most of the Dundalk threats. Dundalk had missed penalty kick attempts in the fifth and eighteenth minutes but these were from long range.
This good start by Carlow made it all the disappointing that a side with such a proud Towns Cup tradition should eventually be put out of the 2017 first round hit with a 37 – 10 scoreline. The truth was that the scoreline didn’t really reflect the game.
Dundalk managed to convert even the whiff of an opportunity into a score whereas Carlow tended to fluff their chances. The fact that Dundalk enjoyed an almost double penalty count also scourged Carlow but maybe this was due to inexperience in the youthful Oakpark side.
Dundalk’s first penalty came from a scrum in which their pack was back pedalling. Another visitor penalty came when the referee had awarded the free to Carlow but reversed it when he deemed a Carlow player to have given back chat.
That said when Dundalk’s first try came in the 35th minute it was the result of good inter back passing and poor Carlow tackling which allowed the winger to dot down in the corner.
Their second try was very soft. Carlow’s John Lyons was sin binned for ostensibly charging into the Dundalk number 15. From the penalty Dundalk went to the corner. Given the fact that Carlow was strong in the scrum they seemed to concede a Dundalk maul try with little resistance in Lyons absence.
Within two minutes it was Dundalk’s turn to have a player yellow carded when prop Farrell was deemed to have led with his elbow when tackling Carlow’s James Nolan. Carlow could have gone for the corner but elected to kick for the posts but Peter Hennessey’s attempt was wide.
After a successful Dundalk penalty on the stroke of half time, Carlow began the second half 13 nil down.
A good start to the half was vital if the Barrowsiders were to close this gap. The opposite was the case. Some sloppy play and a busy referee’s whistle giving Dundalk the lion’s share of the penalty count kept Carlow in their own 22 for most of the third quarter. This was when the Division 1A visitors turned the screw on their Division 2A hosts.
First came another soft mauled try from a penalty kicked to the corner. This made it 20 nil and Carlow had a mountain to climb. 20 became 30 when Dundalk ran in two facile wingers tries in the 12th and 16th minutes of the second half.
At this stage Carlow had all their subs on the field and they began to stuff the ball up their jersey with pick-and-go and take game to Dundalk.
Nolan, Shirley, Farell, McGrath and Ratahi made hard yards. This paid dividends and when Dundalk came under pressure it was they who were conceding penalties. Carlow’s first try came 18 minutes in when Shirley blocked the scrumhalf’s attempted clearance picked up the ball himself and ran 25 metres to score.
Carlow were now doing most of the pressing and trying to at least close the score gap. But Dundalk struck again in the 25th minute with a breakout try which was converted to put them 37 – 5 ahead.
To their credit the young Oakpark team continued to pick and go and Captain Tommy “Tubs” got their second try about 7 minutes from the end. At the end Carlow continued to press on. Dundalk had another player sin binned for persistent fouling but at this stage the County Louth side were well on their way to the second round of the Towns Cup while Carlow may contemplate the Plate.
Coach Padraig Brennan was disappointed at the scoreline but pointed out that six of the 7 Carlow backs are aged 20 and under and that if team can be kept together it has a lot of talent and potential.
Peter Hennessey, Sam Dunne, Fionnan Burke, Simon Walshe, Seamus Curran, Andrew Hanley, Alex Crossley, Larry McGrath, Conal Slator, Alan Byrne, John Lyons, Wes Shirley, Niall Bermingham, Thomas Ratahi (capt),. James Nolan
Subs (all used), Ross Byrne, Thomas Whitney, Mark Slye, Ronan Farrell, Ian Atkinson.
Stephen McGee, Stephen Murphy, Daragh Conroy, Gearoid McDonald, Ultan Murphy, Jonathon Williams, Michael Walls, Jonathan Gray, Sean Arrowsmith, Robert Farrell, John Smith, Enda Murphy, Ciaran Lennon, Laurence Steen, Cole Stewart,
Diarmuid Sloan, Ciaran Brannigan, Tiernan Gonnelly, Conor Williams, Andrew Williams.