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Brian O'Donoghue
August 31, 2023

Carlow SFC Round 1

Tinryland 0-9

MLR 0-9

Where to start with this one? Well, why not at the very start, 24 seconds in, to be precise. That’s how long it took Tinryland to get 13 men inside their own 45m line. It was a really early example of what was to come for the next hour. 

Rangers, were rangers. Raw. Direct. There until the very end and not one bit amused by the blue and white wall that stood before them time and again. 

Tinryland, the team and the great club, synonymous down the years as being all football, purists, traditionalists and maybe lacking in the bit of grit and dark arts are now a full on professor Snape. (If you’re not into Harry Potter he was a sort of bad guy teacher, who wanted to teach the dark arts but was actually the potions master, who, in the end, turned out to be a sort of good guy!) and maybe that’s what’s to come from the blue and white hoops, maybe, but they were a long way off it on Sunday. 

Now, to offer them some excuse, it’s very hard to play a system of any kind against Mount Leinster Rangers. Five or six of the teams in this senior championship will probably set up defensively, and that makes a lot of the games a battle between who can best implement their system. However, playing with a system against MLR is like looking for a 3 course meal in a chipper.

(This writer is fond of a chipper.)

The other mad talking point from this game was THAT point. Most of the crowd had never seen anything like it. Your heart would go out to Cathal Gaffney, a good footballer, intelligent distributor, calm under pressure. In case you haven’t seen it, his attempted cross field ball came off the inside of his foot and began to bounce toward an open net.

Tinryland were two points up and holding on to possession, looking to build patiently. It was clear what Gaffney was trying to do, it was just a one in a million miss kick that could happen to anyone. Nobody was more relieved than the Tinryland net-minder to see the ball hop over the bar. 

In fairness to Tinryland, they were clearly a better footballing team on Sunday. Handling was generally excellent. Some of the point taking was outstanding and when they do decide to attack as a unit, they are good. They just didn’t do it often enough on Sunday.

In fairness to Rangers, if they would just sacrifice one hurler and force him to learn to kick the kind of 9/10 scores most teams kick- then all the rest of the clubs are in trouble. But when natural footballers like the gifted Chris Nolan kick wides consistently from the middle of the D, it’s hard to see how they’ll ever go all the way. However, every club in the county would take Fiachra Fitzpatrick with open arms, now that’s a baller. 

Rangers opened the scoring 90 seconds into this game on Sunday, with the afore mentioned Fitzpatrick kicking a 40m free. Tinryland in arguably their first attack almost hit the net after Paul Broderick and Shane Redmond combined but the chance went a-begging. 

MLR went 2 up when Donagh Murphy, another baller, dragged his tasty right foot across the ball and used the wind to send the ball over the bar, it was a great score. It took Tinryland eight minutes to get a score but they then hit a score every two minutes to go into a 5-2 lead with two really good points from Diarmuid Walshe, a sweet curler from big brother Cormac and two from Paul Broderick, one a free and other a trademark Broderick point on the outer run. 

Fitzpatrick hit two frees, one of them from 42m out to put one between the sides before Cormac Walshe got his second to leave it 6-4 at the break. 

Tinryland were very economical in the first half, they didn’t register a single wide ball and they had the lions share of possession. They were less economical in the second half, going wide four times but Broderick opened the scoring with a sweet curling free five minutes in, putting Tinryland three up. 

Fitzpatrick hit back with an excellent direct run and shot before Jonah Dunne took the initiative and restored the three point lead. Kevin McDonald called a mark on the 53rd minute despite the pass coming from inside the 45m line, but the centre back used the gift to reduce the gap to two. 

What followed next was the “own point” but Mark Mullen saved Tinryland’s blushes momentarily with a lovely point in the 55th minute. 

Rangers pushed and pushed for a goal, but credit the blanket defence from Tinryland it looked very unlikely a goal was going to come despite the Byrne brothers and co lurking around the danger areas. Eventually though a small gap opened and a foul was committed to allow Fiachra Fitzpatrick convert a 13m free right on the 60th minute. 

As injury time ticked on the crowd watched and waited for what seemed inevitable. Tinryland looked to make a conscious decision to try and hold the one point lead. Most teams might opt for the same. Rangers came again and forced a 45. 

Could the man of the match, 21 year old Fiachra Fitzpatrick, level the game? His 45 was struck low, it thudded off a group of fists and dropped over the bar- the game was level. Time was up. 

A draw game was probably a fair result, but Tinryland will feel like it’s a point dropped and not a point gained. 

For Mount Leinster Rangers they realistically need to produce one more performance to get themselves into at least a quarter final, but they could potentially top the group- if they can find find their shooting boots. 

Tinryland: Cathal Gaffney (0-o1); Danny Moran, Jonah Dunne(0-1), Conor Ryan; Niall Lowry, Shane Redmond, Mark Mullen(0-1); John Murphy, Cormac Walshe(0-2); Conor McGrath, Paddy Regan, Conor O’Toole; Diarmuid Walshe(0-2), Paul Broderick(0-3,2f), Maurice Lawlor.

Subs: Matthew O’Toole for Conor McGrath, Cormac O’Brien for Diarmuid Walshe, 

MLR: Dean Grennan; Jamie Nolan, Richard Coady, Sean Joyce, Tim Brennan; Kevin McDonald(0-1), Jack Murphy; Fiachra Fitzpatrick (0-5, 3f, one 45'), Ted Joyce; Donagh Murphy(0-1), Diarmuid Byrne, Brad Bolger; Connall Fitzpatrick (0-1), Edward Byrne, Chris Nolan. Subs: Michael Joyce for Brad Bolger, Robert Stafford for Chris Nolan. 

Referee: Brian Deering (Rathvilly)