Comeback proves to be a step too far for London
London are still chasing their first win in their Allianz Football League campaign, as four goals proved too much of a mountain to come back from, despite a second-half surge from the hosts.
The spirited fight back left them just within two points of the visitors in added time as a last-ditch attempt at goal to win the match eluded them.
Carlow scored four goals in the opening 40 minutes, playing directly into the square in strong winds, rather than attempt points, but Ciaran Deeley will be heartened by the fact that his side held them to only two scores in the second half.
The hosts were given an early lead as North London Shamrocks’ talisman Scott Conroy opened the scoring with a pointed free. The lead was to be lost for good moments later as midfielder Sean Gannon scored the first of his two goals on four minutes.
Referee Eamonn O’Grady seemed to overlook a possible infringement in the buildup to the score, as a London defender appeared to be pushed in the back to the ground, before Gannon received the ball to slot past Gavin McEvoy’s reach. It was not to get easier for the London-born goalkeeper as less than ten minutes later the next score came, again through a Gannon goal.
The Eire Og clubman’s initial attempt was saved by McEvoy, but as it fell loose he made no mistake at toepunting the rebound to rattle the London nets once more.
Brendan Murphy picked up Carlow’s first point as Alan Kelly set him up in front of the posts, to give the visitors an early six point advantage. Senan O’Grady, who started in place of Lorcan Mulvey, orchestrated the next point as he switched play with a superb diagonal ball to Patrick O’Hara, who quickly offloaded to Sean Hickey for an impressive point.
O’Grady did the same again once London regained possession from the kick-out, but this time O’Hara could only put his shot wide as the wind carried it left. Gannon responded with a quick pass to Ed Finnegan on the right wing and as he crossed the ball into the square it was left to McEvoy to intercept the ball ahead of his defence.
Adrian Moyles stood up to take the next free successfully, and London would get another from play shortly afterwards with a great team effort as Hickey passed to O’Hara with his back to goal, who linked up immediately with Conroy to put the ball over.
Any momentum London were building in front of goal was swiftly stunted however as the Leitrim referee awarded Carlow a penalty for their third goal. Murphy, who was having a fine game in midfield, took a shot for a point but when the wind changed its direction it fell well short and McEvoy, slightly isolated in the square, punched it away only for it to fall to Gannon. He was pulled down and O’Grady had no option but to award the spot-kick. John Murphy duly took his three points to give his side a 3-1 to 0-4 lead.
Adrian Moyles made up for a missed free that he shot low and wide with the wind, as he scored a well taken point from play. It was swiftly negated by a JJ Smith free and as Carlow started to control possession Murphy was set up for his second point of the game to give his side a 3-3 to 0-5 lead at the break.
Moyles took the first point of the second half, but an error soon after by Darragh Quinn gifted Gannon possession to the right of goal and he looped the ball over McEvoy’s head to allow Smith to palm the ball into the open net for Carlow’s fourth goal. London were now nine points behind and playing into the wind.
Moyles and Darragh Foley added another point each for their sides through frees, but it was to be the last Carlow would score, on 48 minutes. Mark Gottsche, who had come on for the restart, began to make all the difference as he ran the ball in from midfield and some good play around the square between Conroy and replacement Liam Gavaghan set up James Moran who won a free for his side.
Conroy slotted the set play over, and with 25 minutes to go London were now eight points adrift of the visitors.
The North London Shamrocks forward powered on and just missed his next attempt, this time on goal, as his powerful shot running in on goal went just high and wide.
Moyles was black carded soon afterwards, replaced by Dubliner Eoin Murray on his London debut. Gavaghan, who also had a good game since coming on at the break, narrowly missed the next opportunity as his show hit the side netting. His Tir Chonaill Gaels teammate Gottsche again set up the next score as his short free to Conroy, then found O’Hara whose powerful shot at goal was tipped over the bar by Craig Kearney. London threatened the goal again in a well worked move involving Gottsche, Senan O’Grady and Gavaghan, which was cleared off the line by Daniel St Ledger.
Conroy bought London’s score to 10 with his next pointed free, and played the next one short. London were finally able to break their goal drought after many near attempts, as Garryowen’s Murray collected Gavaghan’s long-range assist with ease, and thumped it beyond Craig Kearney’s reach in off the crossbar. It brought London to within just three points of their rivals with three minutes of normal time left.
Conroy’s next free was played short but hoovered up by the Carlow defence. Conroy was awarded another free, and this time went for a point to leave the gap at just two.
A desperate attempt from an added-time free went awry for the hosts, and the come-back was not to be as they left themselves too much to do to come back from conceding four goals. They now have a few weeks off from their league campaign before travelling to Wexford on February 28.
LONDON: Gavin McEvoy; Philip Butler, David McGreevey, Darragh Quinn; Caoimhin Carty, Danny Ryan, Colin Dunne; James Moran, Cathal Og Greene; Adrian Moyles (0- 4, 3f), Patrick O’Hara (0-1), Adrian Hanlon (0-1); Scott Conroy (0-4, 4f), Senan O’Grady, Sean Hickey (0-1). SUBS USED: John Lynch for Dunne (black card), Mark Gottsche for Greene, Liam Gavaghan for Hanlon, Eoin Murphy (1-0) for Moyles (black card), Dualtach Molloy for Hickey, Shane Buckley for J Lynch
CARLOW: Craig Kearney; Barry John Molloy, Daniel St Ledger, Kieran Nolan; Gary Kelly, Derek Hayden, Benny Kavanagh; Brendan Murphy (0- 2), Sean Gannon (2-0); Alan Kelly, John Murphy (1-0, 1 pen), Darragh Foley (0-1, 1f); Brian Murphy, JJ Smith (1-1, 1f), Ed Finnegan. SUBS USED: Chris Blake for Murphy, Hughie Gahan for Foley, Mark Fitzgerald for St Ledger (black card)
Ciaran Deeley had mixed emotions after his second game at the helm of the London senior footballers, after his side left themselves too much to do after a shaky first half.
“We were very poor up until half time, so we were disappointed but it was mixed as we redeemed ourselves somewhat in the second half.
“We said at half time that the performance was not up to scratch in the tackle count especially,” said the Wexford native.
“But we knew that these first matches would be difficult as we haven’t had the same time and preparations as the teams coming over from Ireland to build our fitness up.
“We regained pride in our performance in the second half and we were unlucky really not to get something out of it in the end. But there is no way that you can concede four goals and win at this level.”
His team now have a three week break before they take on Wexford away from home on February 28.
“Before we came into these games we just wanted to compete. “We will be working on our fitness levels over the next fortnight as Wexford Park is a big pitch and we need to compete by getting out intensity and tackle count up.
“But we have Mark Gottsche and Liam Gavaghan coming back from injury, and you can see they really made a difference in the second have. “Lorcan Mulvey will return too and it’s just a case of bedding in the new system and players and tweak a few things.
“I just hope that we don’t look back on this match and see it as one we regret not taking anything from.
“We knew this period would be intense playing Louth and Wexford after them coming down from division 3.
“But our goal was to compete and I feel we were close to a result in our opening two matches.
“We did only concede eight scores, and when you look at the goals they were down to some individual errors.
“I didn’t have to say anything to those lads after the game, they knew their mistakes and were very disappointed that they let it happen.
“But that is the environment we want here, to empower the players to take responsibility for their actions on the pitch. “There was some great play as well at times in the first half, there was great movement and handling in the forwards and that’s what we need to build on.”