It’s Carlow v Laois and Longford v Dublin in the Leinster Senior Football Championship semi-finals at Croke Park on Sunday, 10th June after the four quarter-finals were held this weekend.
Carlow 2-14, Kildare 1-10
The Carlow adventure continues – next stop Croke Park.
A place in the provincial semi-final is the reward for Turlough O’Brien’s team after a fully merited victory over Kildare at Bord na Móna O’Connor Park.
The past 12 months have been among the most memorable ever for Carlow GAA. The joyous scenes on the pitch after they disposed of the Lilywhites came after a game which they controlled for most of the 70 minutes.
Despite the concession of a soft goal, Carlow led by 1-8 to 1-3 at the interval. Kildare struggled to overturn this deficit as the second half wore on. The gap was briefly down to three points late on, but Carlow lifted their game once more and finished on a high with a superb goal from rampaging corner back Conor Lawlor.
With Paul Broderick exceptionally accurate from placed balls (his final tally of 0-11 included two scores from play), Carlow didn’t register a single wide in the game.
They started confidently, with the early highlights including Darragh Foley’s super point from 45 minutes. Having built up a 0-3 to 0-1 lead, they were rocked with the concession of a soft goal, which was fisted home by Daniel Flynn.
Soon after, though, a long range free from Daniel St. Ledger appeared to go all the way into the Kildare net, with Darragh Foley possibly getting a touch at the edge of the square.
The following 10 minutes were evenly contested as Paul Cribbin, Sean Gannon and Keith Cribbin all pointed. Goalkeeper, Robbie Molloy then made amends for his earlier error with a penalty save from Eanna O’Connor.
For the closing stages of the first half, Carlow were inspired, producing their best football of the afternoon as they moved five points clear by the interval. Kildare, for their part, seemed unsure how to break down their southerly neighbours, instead taking low percentage pot shots from range that yielded little by way of a positive return. Paul Cribbin struck two superb points from distance, but several other similar attempts led to nothing more than a wave of the arms from the umpires at the Arden Road end of the ground.
And any notion of a shift in momentum at half time was blown out of the water within 30 seconds of the restart as Carlow won the throw in and set up another attack that ended with Broderick firing over his best score of the game from right on the terrace side touchline.
Still Kildare pulled the gap back to three points late on, but they couldn’t repel Carlow’s breaks out of defence, and kept conceding scores to dead balls. Carlow fell back into a very defensive stance, even after Mick O’Grady added a black card to his earlier yellow and saw Kildare reduced to 14 men, but as they proved in the fifth minute of added time, they still posed a threat from deep positions.
Corner back Conor Lawlor broke clear and in the spirit of this Carlow team, turned down the option of an easy fisted point and instead slipped the ball underneath Mark Donnellan for a stunning goal.
Scorers for Carlow: Paul Broderick 0-11 (9fs), Daniel St. Ledger 1-0 (free), Conor Lawlor 1-0, Darragh Foley, Seán Gannon and Ciarán Moran 0-1.
Scorers for Kildare: Daniel Flynn 1-1, Paul Cribbin 0-3, Kevin Feely 0-3 (3fs), Kevin Flynn 0-2, Keith Cribbin 0-1.
CARLOW: Robbie Molloy; Shane Redmond, Chris Crowley, Conor Lawlor; Jordan Morrissey, Daniel St. Ledger, Ciarán Moran; Seán Murphy, Eoghan Ruth; Seán Gannon, Paul Broderick, Diarmuid Walshe; Darragh Foley, Darragh O’Brien, John Murphy.
Subs: Danny Moran for Crowley (49), Cian Lawler for Walshe (54), Lee Walker for O’Brien (64), Barry John Molloy for Foley (70+5, black card).
KILDARE: Mark Donnellan; Peter Kelly, David Hyland, Mick O’Grady; Johnny Byrne, Eoin Doyle, Kevin Flynn; Kevin Feely, Paul Cribbin; Fergal Conway, Keith Cribbin, Paddy Brophy; Niall Kelly, Daniel Flynn, Éanna O’Connor.
Subs: Chris Healy for O’Connor (30), David Slattery for K Cribbin (54), Tommy Moolick for Brophy (61), Eamonn Callaghan for Kelly (67).
Longford 0-16, Meath 0-14
No green flags, but Longford achieved their goal with a memorable quarter-final victory over Meath at Glennon Bros Pearse Park.
With their best performances coming in the qualifiers in recent years, Longford were determined to make the most of home advantage in the Leinster Championship this season.
It was a deserved win for Denis Connerton’s charges, but Meath forced them to work hard until the end – even after being reduced to 14 players when Shane McEntee was sent off in the 56th minute.
And it could have been even closer only for a magnificent save by Paddy Collum with five minutes remaining, when only two points separated the sides.
The net-minder tipped the ball over the bar, but Longford didn’t wilt and instead of a Meath equaliser, Longford ended on a high with Sean McCormack’s point.
In the opening half, the sides were level on seven occasions. Longford opened the scoring in the fifth minute with an excellent point from James McGivney. Paddy Kennelly replied for Meath. Points were then traded between Rian Brady and Graham Reilly.
It was nip-and-tuck from then until the half time whistle, at which stage the sides were deadlocked at 0-7 apiece.
Longford improved in the second half and were five points up at one stage, as they stormed victory against the Royal County.
Scorers for Longford: James McGivney 0-4, Darren Gallagher 0-3, Rian Brady 0-2, Paddy Collum (‘45), Connor Berry, Dessie Reynolds, David McGivney, Robbie Smyth, and Sean McCormack 0-1 each.
Scorers for Meath: Graham Reilly 0-3, Paddy Kennelly and Donal Lenihan (2fs) 0-2 each, Sean Curran, Donal Keogan, Bryan Menton, Ben Brennan, Mickey Burke, Eamon Wallace, and Joey Wallace 0-1 each.
LONGFORD: Paddy Collum; Paddy Fox, Padraig McCormack, Diarmuid Masterson; Michael Quinn, Donal McElligott, Daniel Mimnagh; Darren Gallagher, Connor Berry; Dessie Reynolds, Ronan McEntire, David McGivney; Robbie Smyth, James McGivney, Rian Brady.
Subs: Sean McCormack for R Smyth (67), Peter Foy for D McGivney and Liam Connerton (70+3), Barry Gilleran for Mimnagh (70+5).
MEATH: Andrew Colgan; Seamus Lavin, Conor McGill, Sean Curran; James McEntee, Donal Keoghan, Shane McEntee; Brian Menton, Paddy Kennelly; Cillian O’Sullivan, Ben Brennan, Mickey Burke; Bryan McMahon, Graham Reilly, Donal Lenihan.
Subs: Daniel O’Neill for Kennelly (49), Joey Wallace (54), Eamon Wallace for C O’Sullivan (59), Thomas O’Reilly for McMahon (69).
REFEREE: Sean Hurson (Tyrone).
Dublin 4-25, Wicklow 1-11
Any possible doubts about hunger and appetite and attitude in the Dublin camp were blown away in the first 15 minutes of this one sided quarter final in Portlaoise.
Dublin’s pursuit of eight Leinster titles in a row is up and running.
That was never in doubt. The real point of interest is the emphatic manner in which the Dubs announced their entry into Championship 2018.
A game and eager Wicklow kicked three wides in the opening minutes.
Dublin in contrast were devastatingly economical.
Bryan Fenton slotted a neat goal in the 7th minute, Dean Rock palmed in a second after another great move in the 14th minute.
With Ciaran Kilkenny and Con O’Callaghan looking lethal it was 2-6 to 0-0 after 15 minutes and game over. No doubting their razor sharp intent.
James Stanford lofted over Wicklow’s first point in the 18th minute. The big man went full forward and caused bedlam to flick in a goal in the 26th minute.
If there is any hint of an Achilles heel to Dublin, the powerful target man on the edge of the square could be it as it took all of James McCarthy’s ability to thwart Stafford.
At half time it was 4-13 to 1-4 with Kilkenny and O’Callaghan adding goals in injury time.
Dublin’s relentless pace had Wicklow huffing, so too the slick inter play and sharpness up front.
Wicklow denied them goals after the break – but as Jim Gavin emptied the bench and Paul Flynn and Kevin McManamon looked for the chance to impress there was no let up.
Darren Hayden kicked two sweet scores for Wicklow and they ran to the final whistle.
But this was a day when the gap between league champs Dublin and Div 4 Wicklow was all too obvious.
Scorers for Dublin: Ciaran Kilkenny 1-7, Con O’Callaghan 1-3, Brian Fenton 1-3, Dean Rock 1-2 (2fs), Paddy Andrews 0-3, Conor McHugh 0-2 (1f), Brian Howard 0-1, Philly McMahon 0-1, Michael Darragh Macauley 0-1, Paul Mannion 0-1 (0-1 45), Colm Basquel 0-1.
Scorers for Wicklow: James Stafford 1-1, Theo Smyth 0-2, Darren Hayden 0-2, Mark Jackson 0-2 (2fs), Seanie Furlong 0-1 (0-1f), Rory Finn 0-1, Dean Healy 0-1, Mark Kenny 0-1.
DUBLIN: Stephen Cluxton; Eric Lowndes, Philly McMahon, Michael Fitzsimons; James McCarthy, Jonny Cooper, Brian Howard; Michael Darragh Macauley, Brian Fenton; Niall Scully, Ciaran Kilkenny, Con O’Callaghan; Dean Rock, Paul Mannion, Paddy Andrews.
Subs: Eoin Murchan for Fitzsimons (HT), Conor McHugh for Rock (h/t), Paul Flynn for Macauley (41), Darren Daly for Mannion (41), Colm Basquel for Andrews (48), Kevin McManamon for O’Callaghan (52).
WICKLOW: Mark Jackson; Eoin Murtagh, Ross O’Brien, Ciaran Hyland; John Crowe, Dean Healy, Saoirse Kearon; Rory Finn, James Stafford; Darren Hayden, Kevin Murphy, Theo Smyth; Seanie Furlong, John McGrath, Mark Kenny.
Subs: Cathal Magee for Murphy (h/t), Daragh Fitzgerald for McGrath (HT), Conor Healy for Kearon (50), Paul Merrigan for Crowe (53), Brendan Kennedy for Stafford (58), Daniel Keane for Smyth (68).
REFEREE: Ciaran Branagan (Down).