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SFC Report: Bagenalstown see off MLR in another feisty encounter between the two clubs

Kevin Regan
September 10, 2023

Carlow SFC Group 1 Round 3

Bagenalstown Gaels 2-9

MLR 0-8

Games between these two clubs have never had us lacking in terms of talking points and once again this one threw up more than a fair share.

It was certainly always going to be a difficult one for Billy Fanning and his officials to keep tabs on and in fairness they were tested on more than one occasion over the duration of the contest.

It was a game that had a bit of everything. 2 red cards, a retaken penalty, an outfield player jumping in goals for said penalty, an incorrect scoreboard and that's probably only the half of it!

But one thing for sure is that Bagenalstown were the better team. They came with urgency, intent and skill in abundance and it took just 19 seconds for all of this to be evident with a lovely trademark Cian Doyle point which was well worked.

You could see that the Town were really up for it. They attacked breaking ball with vigor, they moved the ball faster and 11 minutes in they were 0-4 to 0-1 up as Paddy McDonnell added two frees with Jamie Clarke fisting over the other.

Rangers did get the next two scores as they began to settle with Diarmuid Byrne shooting on the loop, while Chris Nolan knocked over another off the left foot after a game of screwball scramble in the lead up.

A crucial moment in the game arrived on the 20 minute mark. Jamie Clarke gathered a break from a Ciaran Cunningham kickout. He made inroads before feeding the blindingly quick Paddy McDonnell. He offloaded to Robbie Kane who had his effort blocked by an MLR defender. It looked like the sort of contact that wouldn't look out of place in a game of red arse, but a foot block was the decision and the penalty was awarded.

Plot twist! Goalkeeper Dean Grennan stepped to one side to allow wing back Tim Brennan a chance to save the penalty. This may have seemed nuts, but there was method to the madness with Tim saving a few on the way to MLR's u20 success last year.

Jamie Clarke put away the kick. Another plot twist! The kick has to be retaken. Tim gets another chance. But Clarke gives him no chance and Btown went 1-4 to 0-3 up.

We had one last score just approaching stoppage time with Paddy McDonnell scoring from play, but while that was sailing over, it was all happening in the middle of the field.

In fairness it largely seemed to be grappling, pushing and shoving but it did go on for several minutes. A little side skirmish then broke out in front of the MLR goals. The only sanction from both dances was a yellow card for Robbie Kane.

Half time Bagenalstown Gaels 1-5, MLR 0-3.

A Fiachra Fitzpatrick brace on the resumption was sandwiched by another moment which caused confusion. Robbie Kane's point seemed to be rightfully disallowed, but Marty Barry announced for the scoreboard operator to change it. Cue a lot of texts and conversations. Ultimately Billy Fanning confirmed to us after the game that it was disallowed in his book. As Pat Shortt once famously said, what's in the book is there in black and white!

Cian Doyle and Diarmuid Byrne exchanged the next scores and Kane fired a warning shot just wide on 45 minutes. He hit the target proper on the 50 minute mark when another surging run via a kickout from Paddy McDonnell created the opening and Kane added the finish. He enjoyed the celebrations too and it's fair to say that neither he or MLR goalkeeper Dean Grennan were exactly shy of the verbals throughout the game.

At 2-6 to 0-6 down, MLR had it all to do but all they could manage was two more points from Diarmuid Byrne and Evan Kealy with two more frees from McDonnell bookending a Kane point giving the Town the 7 point cushion 2 minutes into injury time.

But we weren't finished there.

Another round of waltzing broke out, but this time there was severe punishment handed out and both Chris Nolan and Willie Hickey received their marching orders.

There was so many bodies around that it was genuinely hard to pick out anything from the press box on the terrace side but the officials had a much closer look and MLR finished the game with 13 men.

The Town were happy to get one over on their rivals, but both sides know that they have work to do regardless of who they face in the Quarters next weekend.

Bagenalstown: Ciaran Cunningham; Jamie Whelan, Jack McCullagh, Liam McDonnell; Sean Wall, Danny Doyle, Darren Crooks; Paddy McDonnell (0-5, 4f), Kealan Guidera; Oisin Dillon, Darragh Nolan, Jamie Clarke (1-1, 1-0 pen); Robbie Kane (1-1), Cian Doyle (0-2, 1f), Shane Clarke.

Subs: Jason Wall for Crooks (37 mins), Tommy McDonnell for J Whelan and Ross O'Neill for L McDonnell (both 45 mins), Richie Whelan for C Doyle (57 mins), Alan Whelan for Dillon 62 mins.

MLR: Dean Grennan; Jamie Nolan, Richie Coady, Sean Joyce; Tim Brennan, Kevin McDonald, Jack Murphy; Fiachra Fitzpatrick (0-2f), Ted Joyce; Donagh Murphy (0-1), Diarmuid Byrne (0-3), Michael Joyce; Conaill Fitzpatrick, Eddie Byrne, Chris Nolan (0-1).

Subs: Evan Kealy (0-1) for M Joyce (Half Time), Jon Nolan for J Murphy (35mins inj), Willie Hickey for E Byrne (51 mins), Brad Bolger for T Joyce (55mins), Robert Stafford for F Fitzpatrick 60 mins).

Referee: Billy Fanning (Ballon)