Allianz NHL Div 2A Rnd 3
By Damian Dolan
At McGovern Park
It was another tough afternoon for the Exiles as they went down by 17-points to Carlow at McGovern Park Ruislip in the proverbial game of two halves.
On the back a 20-point defeat at the hands of Kerry and a ten-point loss to Meath, the Exiles were again left staring down the barrel of another top heavy scoreline, but only after frustrating the life out of Colm Bonnar’s charges in the opening 35 minutes.
While there can be no papering over the cracks that London are still not on the same level as the likes of Sunday’s opponents, in their preparations for the Christy Ring the Exiles arguably took another baby step forward with that spirited first half display.
London boss Fergus McMahon gave debuts to goalkeeper Padraig Buckley (Mallow, Cork), Lee Murphy (Padraig Pearses, Galway) and Aaron Sheehan (Mallow, Cork), and pushed Colin Nelson, who’d lined out against Meath at full back, up the field.
All acquitted themselves well, while Nelson’s switch proved an inspired one, with Nelson firing over one exquisite score in particular.
While it was Carlow who did most of the hurling in the opening period, the visitors lead was only 1-9 to 0-9 at the short whistle, as the Barrowsiders failed to build on Martin Kavanagh’s 19th minute goal.
Carlow would enjoy a lot of success down London’s left flank, and after another forage down that wing, the ball came back in field to Diarmuid Byrne and he shifted it on to Kavanagh in acres of space to fire past Buckley in the London goal.
Kavanagh’s strike put five points between the sides and better reflected the visitors’ ascendancy, but London showed their stubborn streak thereafter as they held on to Carlow’s coat tails, with Richard Murphy in dead-eye form after a couple of early misses.
The Exiles were visibly growing in confidence as the half progressed, taking heart from Carlow’s increasing frustration at their own ability to pull away on the scoreline.
That frustration manifested itself in frees which Murphy was only too happy to accept.
London knocked over the next three scores through Colin Nelson (two) and a Murphy free, and although the excellent Chris Nolan pointed via the post, frees from Murphy (two) and Kevin Reid had the Exiles back on level terms with six minutes of the half remaining.
London had claimed seven out of the last eight points to leave Carlow scratching their heads as to how they weren’t in front.
But the visitors cleared their heads quickly to finish the half strongly, with Chris Nolan leading the fight for the visitors to lead by three.
When London emerged for the second half and Nelson and Daryl Roberts combined superbly to set up Murphy for a lovely score, it seemed as if the Exiles might take Carlow the distance.
But a disputed John Michael Nolan strike, with referee Gearoid McGrath consulting with both linesmen and his umpires before eventually awarding the score, proved to be something of a turning point.
Buoyed by the decision going in their favour, Carlow were lifted and proceeded to blitz the Exiles with six points in an eight-minute spell, which included John Michael Nolan’s controversial effort which got the ball rolling.
Murphy missed a free which might have settled the Exiles during that onslaught, but it was Murphy who took the fight back to the visitors just as they thought (for a second time in the game) that they’d finally got the upperhand. Murphy’s three scores (two from frees) reduced the gap to just five points.
Kavanagh replied for Carlow before the game swung decisively in the visitors’ favour when Nelson saw a straight red.
Fifteen minutes still remained and Carlow set about making sure of the win, before then filling their boots in an effort to improve their points difference. Buckley produced an excellent save to deny Seamus Murphy, only for James Doyle to goal on the follow up.
Two minutes later Chris Nolan picked out the top corner with a superb strike to add goal number three for Carlow.
SCORERS: CARLOW – C Nolan 1-5 (0-1f), M Kavanagh 1-4 (0-1 f); J Doyle 1-4; J Nolan 0-4; C Wall 0-2; D English (0-1 f), D Byrne, R Kelly, S Murphy 0-1. LONDON – R Murphy 0-10 (0-7 fs); C Nelson 0-2; K Reid, D Roberts, F Collins 0-1.
CARLOW: Brian Tracey; Alan Corcoran, Paul Doyle, Michael Doyle; Richard Kelly, David English, Richard Coady; Craig Wall, Diarmuid Byrne; Seamus Murphy, Martin Kavanagh, John Michael Nolan; Denis Murphy, Paul Coady, Chris Nolan 8. Subs: James Doyle for Denis Murphy (h-t), Conor Foley for Craig Wall (51min), Kevin McDonald for Paul Coady (60min), Jack Murphy for M Kavanagh (64 min).
LONDON: Padraig Buckley; Conor Hickey, Brian Regan, Chris McAlinden; Darren Moore, Kevin Reid, Lee Murphy; Alan O’Leary, Tony Clarke; Martin Duggan, Richard Murphy, Shane Lawless; Aaron Sheehan, Colin Nelson, Daryl Roberts. Subs: Michael Ivors for O’Leary (43min); Fergal Collins for Duggan (62min), Cian Lordan for Roberts (62min), Michael O’Laochdha for Hickey (62min), Shane Skelly for Chris McAlinden (69min).
REFEREE: G McGrath (Wexford).