Derry 1-13, Carlow 1-15
Carlow ended Derry’s unbeaten run with a hard fought, two point victory that sees Pat English’s men leap-frog the Oak Leafers to the top of the Division 2A table.
Westmeath’s victory over Kerry means Derry remain second, one point behind Carlow who were made to work for everything they got in a game which hinged on Seamus Murphy’s excellent goal one minute before the break which brought the visitors back into contention and with the wind at their backs for the second half.
The hosts started with the strong breeze first half and the bright sunlight made it difficult for the Carlow backs to defend the high balls Derry were dropping in on top of them.
Tom McLean’s men were in front inside 60 seconds when Alan Grant did well to win possession before drawing a foul which left Ruairi Convery with an easy free to open his account. Carlow responded immediately through the impressive John Michael Nolan who found the target from wide on the left hand side but Derry’s front six were causing problems at the other end and they had the ball in the net on three minutes.
Ruaidhai Leonard’s sideline ball seemed to catch everyone out and drifted over the Carlow full-back line which allowed Derry debutante Brendan Douban to race clear. With the sliotar running along the ground toward goal, Douban won the foot race ahead of Carlow keeper Kevin Kehoe and flicked it into the empty net for an early three point lead. It was a deserved lead at that point and Ruairi Convery extended it further with the second of four first half frees.
Yet, despite enjoying the better of the conditions, Derry were never able to put any real distance between themselves and the visitors for whom Martin Kavanagh was doing his best to keep his team in touch. The St Mullin’s man pulled one back with a placed ball before Paddy McCloskey hit a fantastic score from wide on the right touch line.
Craig Doyle and Convery were on target as the teams swapped scores with Kavanagh leaving only three between them again at 1-04 to 0-4 on 18 minutes.
Carlow were having a lot of joy finding pockets of space in between the Derry lines but, with the wind against them, Derry were able to limit the damage players like Kavanagh could inflict though it was a warning of what was to follow after the break.
The scoring went tit-for tat for the remainder of the half, Derry enjoying the majority of possession but unable to translate their pressure into scores and Carlow happy to soak it up and hit on the break which they did to great effect.
First Convery and Kavanagh, and then Convery and Nolan swapped scores but the latter really should have passed in to Doyle who would have had a clear run on goal had his team mate seen him.
An excellent score from the lively Douban looked like giving Derry a four point interval lead before Murphy’s major, one minute before half-time, changed the complexion of the game completely. Derry were caught in possession in midfield and in an instant, Carlow had moved the ball from Jack Kavanagh to Martin Kavanagh and through to Murphy whose low finish gave Darrel McDermott no chance.
It could have got even better for Carlow moments later before a superb Conor Quinn interception stopped them breaking through on goal again as the hosts went in with a slender one point lead at 1-7 to 1-6.
Derry shifted Alan Grant to full forward for the start of the second half but the Na Magha man saw little of the ball as those pockets of space Carlow had been finding first half started to pay dividends.
Despite facing into the wind, Derry had started the second period well with points from Convery and Douban but the warning signs were there and a three point lead quickly became a one point deficit as Carlow started to find their range. Scores from Doyle, Edward Byrne, Kavanagh and Murphy saw Carlow take the lead for the first time in the game and turn 1-9 to 1-6 into 1-09 to 1-10 inside three minutes.
Convery drew Derry level once more but the momentum had shifted and the visitors were now in the ascendency and Kavanagh, with two frees, and a lovely long range score from David English put them three points up.
They should have been a man down on 58 minutes though when Doyle, seconds after tangling with Paddy Kelly, took a dangerous swing at Sean McCullagh along the touchline and was lucky to get away with only a booking.
It looked like his team could still be punished though as, from the resultant free, Convery caught the high ball brilliantly and burst through. The Swatragh player tried to kick toward goal but, under pressure, pulled his shot wide but referee Owen Elliott called it back and awarded a 60th minute penalty for the pull on the Derry man. Convery took it himself but Carlow keeper Kevin Kehoe produced a brilliant save, pushing Convery’s shot onto the post.
Carlow were still three points up but guilty of a number of second half wides as the game ticked into the final 10 minutes with the teams swapping points once more. Diarmuid Bryne and Kavanagh, either side of a Convery free had Carlow 1-15 to 1-11 ahead entering the final five minutes and while Convery and Sean McGuigan both hit late points, Carlow had done enough to secure the points
Derry: Darrel McDermott; Sean McCullagh, Conor Quinn, Anton Rafferty; Conor McSorley, Paddy Kelly, Kevin Hinphey; Niall Ferris, Ruaidhai Leonard; Ruairi Convery (0-9, 7f 1 sixty-five) Liam Og Hinphey, Paddy McCloskey; Alan Grant (0-1), Michael Conway, Brendan Douban (1-2). (Subs) Sean McGuigan (0-1) for L Hinphey, H/T; Paul Cleary for M Conway, H/T; Tiernan McCloskey for R Leonard; Dean Flanagan for P McCloskey, 62mins; Aaron Kelly for N Ferris, 62mins.
Carlow: Kevin Kehoe; Richard Coady, James Kinsella, Alan Corcoran; David English (0-1), John Rogers, Ger Coady; John Michael Nolan (0-2), Diarmuid Byrne (0-1); Jack Kavanagh, Edward Byrne (0-1), Craig Wall; Martin Kavanagh (0-7, 5f), Seamus Murphy (0-2), Craig Doyle (0-2). (Subs) Edward Coady for G Wall, H/T; Eoin Doyle for C Doyle, 63mins; Shaner Kavanagh, J Kinsella, 66mins; Andrew Gaule for G Coady, 71mins.
Referee: Owen Elliott (Antrim)