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Blue and White Blanket Blows Strong Against the Gaels

Brian O'Donoghue
September 26, 2023

Carlow Senior Football Semi Final

Tinryland 0-8

Bagenalstown Gaels 0-3

Sitting in the Netwatch Cullen Park stand it was mesmerizing watching the tumbleweed like, sheeting rain, wave down the pitch from the Blues end down toward the scoreboard end. 

Some people would say the wavy rain was more entertaining than the football on show, but that would be a lazy narrative. That would be an acceptable view if this had been a first round game, or a dead rubber, but this was a senior football championship semi final and ultimately it was a chess match between a grandmaster and an apprentice and there could only be one winner. 

It was a fascinating encounter in many ways. Last years beaten finalists, sticking to their guns and leaving 14 men behind their own ‘45 for large parts of the game, and the team of youthful naivety and flair who are capable of anything on their day. 

Paul Broderick was, unsurprisingly, the key man in front of the posts for Tinryland with four perfectly judged kicks in horrible conditions. Tinryland had plenty of leaders on the field though and Danny Moran, Conor McGrath, Conor O’Toole and Diarmuid Walshe were on hand to slot points at important moments. 

For Bagenalstown it was evidently a case of just not having the experience of dealing with a blanket defence. At times they showed glimpses of knowing what to do and as the ball would move across the field a brave soldier would come off the shoulder of a teammate at pace, but too many times they began the break too far from the point in the line where they may have broken through. 

Jamie Clarke and Robbie Kane gave their all for the Bagenalstown cause, to the point where Kane's passion boiled over and he was sent off in the dying seconds, and there were shouts for penalties for the Gaels too that might have changed things, but in the end, converting 3 out of 19 scoring opportunities will never win a senior semi final. 

At half time the Tinryland men lead 0-3 to 0-1. Danny Moran kicked over a beauty of a right footed curler into the O’Hanrahan’s end in the second minute and Kane kicked an equally impressive right footed curler at the other end to level it on six minutes.

We had to wait eight minutes for the next score. Tinryland held possession for over two minutes straight before eventually Paul Broderick darted from the stand side sideline toward the centre of the pitch and curled over with his trusty left foot. 

The Gaels moved fast in response and a quickly taken kick out caught the Tinryland defence a little off guard, their attack resulted in a ‘45 but it dropped short. Bagenalstown were enjoying a purple patch midway through the first half and they came again, this time Guidera with a long ranger that seemed to slide down the post and bounce in Cathal Gaffney’s square and was dealt with. Bagenalstown had a shout for a penalty in that purple patch but John Hickey wasn’t interested. 

Paul Broderick pointed in the 20th minute with a superb effort and we had ten scoreless minutes to see out the half. Mark Mullen picked up what looked like a bad knock and had to be replaced in those ten minutes, but other than that, it was a slow paced chest match and Tinryland had captured 3 pawns while only coughing up one of their own. 

Bagenalstown would need to go after a bishop or a knight if they were to get to grips with the game.

90 seconds into the second half Jamie Clarke decided to flip the chess board over and he dispossessed Jonah Dunne, the Tinryland full back, and immediately went on the counter attack with acres of ground to run into and a lightning quick Robbie Kane coming of the shoulder. It was a golden opportunity to hit the net and it would have given Tinryland all kinds of headaches but a combination of blue and white bodies seemed to do enough to see it out. The resulting ‘45 dropped short and Bagenalstown got zero return for a lot of hard work. 

With the chess board back on the table and the pieces back in position, Tinryland went for checkmate. Paul Broderick slipped Paddy Regan through and only Regan and God will ever know how the net wasn’t rattled. 

Broderick and Paddy McDonnell traded frees to make it 0-4 to 0-2. 

The sides swapped further scores a few moments later. John Murphy made a deep penetrating run at the heart of the Gaels defence before he slipped it to Conor O’Toole who converted expertly. Tinryland came on the attack shortly after and Alfie Corcoran somehow got his paws to a bouncing ball and strode forward for the Gaels. The ball was fetched from the sky by Kane who called the mark and slotted to make it 0-5 to 0-3. We were just half way through the second half, but that would be the last score Bagenalstown would kick. 

Tinryland showed great patience before Diarmuid Walshe kicked his excellent score and a superb block by Alfie Corcoran denied Paul Broderick before the latter converted the resulting ‘45 in what was a gloriously judged kick. Shooting into the scoreboard end, he aimed the ball 15m left of the posts and watched as the wind then guided it over. It was perfection. 

What wasn’t perfection was his next attempted free kick. Having come over to take the responsibility he seemed to feel the ball was of sub standard quality. He handed it to linesman Jonathon Murphy who gave it a squeeze and told him to get on with it. Paul was furious, but put the ball down and went for the shot, it was one of his poorer efforts though and as he ran to get back into position he left Murphy in no doubt that he felt the poor kick was his responsibility. 

With two minutes to go we got our check mate moment.

Conor McGrath who had carried a mountain of ball for the winners glided forward and swept over a nice point to put five between the teams. It was game over, but to add salt to the wounds for Bagenalstown, Robbie Kane, who will say he attempted to kick the ball from the hands of a player on the ground, learnt a valuable lesson in not raising a boot in that fashion again. He was given a straight red card in injury time and it made it all the more easy for Tinryland to see it out. 

Tinryland: Cathal Gaffney; Danny Moran (0-1), Jonah Dunne, Conor Ryan; Niall Lowry, Shane Redmond, Mark Mullen; John Murphy, Cormac Walshe; Conor McGrath(0-1), Paddy Regan, Conor O’Toole(0-1); Diarmuid Walshe(0-1), Paul Broderick (0-4,2f), Maurice Lawler. Subs: Michael Hosey, Peter Hennessy, James McGrath, Rory Doyle. 

Bagenalstown Gaels: Ciaran Cunningham; Jason Wall, Alan Corcoran, Sean Wall; Jack McCullagh, Darragh Nolan, Darren Crooks; Oisin Dillon, Keelan Guidera; Jamie Clarke, Robbe Kane (0-2, 1f), Danny Doyle; Paddy McDonnell (0-1f), Cian Doyle, Shane Clarke. Subs: Liam McDonnell, Richie Whelan, Thomas McDonnell. 

Referee: John Hickey (Fenagh)