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St Patrick’s Edge Thrilling Derby

Brian O'Donoghue
September 3, 2023

IFC Round 2

St Patricks 1-10

Grange 0-11

Other than the end result, every other aspect of this encounter was expected- tough, feisty, bubbling and bustling, with some decent football and a lot to talk about. 

Stand out moments or talking points can be summed up with Brian Byrne’s goal, John Murphy’s injury, Cathal Bailey’s opening score and the dominant Will Doran in midfield for St. Patrick’s. 

Before the football could start, an impeccable minute silence was observed for the great Hughie Murphy. The Grange stalwart passed away on Thursday after a short illness. Both teams lined up on their respective ‘45 metre lines to pay their respects to a man who was known by GAA people all across Carlow and further afield. May Hughie rest in peace. 


Inside two minutes a Grange attack made its way toward the Fenagh end on the main pitch down the right hand side. The ball was laid off to the on-rushing Cathal Bailey who had an extra second to line up the shot. From all of 40m he kicked beautifully across the size 5 O’Neills and the ball sailed between the posts to a huge roar from the Grange faithful. 

Moments later a long ball into John Murphy saw him fouled, although defender Shane Rohan thought a square shoulder had been delivered, and Murphy knocked the free over to give Grange a 2-0 lead. 

Murphy was wearing 26 on his back. He wasn’t listed to start on the match program. A calf injury had him in doubt of featuring at all, but he was just fit enough to keep Grange in the game from frees when needed. Had a 100% John Murphy been playing the result possibly could have been different, but we will never know. 

The Tullow men, in fairness to them, never panicked. They have a system that they all seem to trust, and although a local derby can throw systems out the window, they stuck to their guns and didn’t force the game. 

They have some impressive ball carriers, Jacko is an obvious one but TJ Kavanagh, David Orbinski, Brian Byrne and a clatter of Gorman-Comerford’s all seem to be brimming with confidence and they slowly helped St.Patrick’s to get a foothold in the game. 

Will Doran was impressive in midfield. Not just in terms of actual play, but he could be seen and heard time and again giving a heads up to a teammate, or simply encouraging those around him to keep the head. 

Tullow had dropped a ball short into Seamus Hegarty’s chest before the John Murphy free above, and they would find themselves 3-0 down after ten minutes when Shane Cormican finished off a nice interlinking move. 

Jack Kennedy stroked over a routine free for St. Patrick’s after 12 minutes and a minute later a blistering run from David Orbinski culminated in Brian Byrne claiming possession and he showed killer instincts to drive the ball into the Grange net. 

Suddenly Tullow were in the lead and one could argue it was deserved because they did lead the possession stats in that opening quarter, even if it finished all square after John Murphy slotted another free. 

Over the next period of the game the sides went two for two, Will Doran finished a great run with a point, TJ Kavanagh curled over a beauty from 30m and Grange replied with a beauty of their own from Ned Pender and then Cathal Bailey slotted a ‘45 and the game was level with six minutes to go to the break. 

Jacko knocked over a free and Alan Flemming converted his own mark to make the sides all square yet again. 

As the game moved ever closer towards half time we came upon what, in hindsight, could have been the moment of the game. Paddy Hickey delivered a beautiful through ball to Shane Cormican and he bolted through to a one on one challenge with James Tobin in the Tullow goal. It was 70-30 in favour of the attacker but Tobin narrowed the angle, made himself as big as possible and reacted brilliantly to deny Grange what could have been a three point lead going into half time. Ultimately, another converted John Murphy free gave Grange just a one point advantage at the break. 

St. Patrick’s made a change at half time with Adam Johnson replacing Orbinski. Then in the first minute Brian Byrne raised a white flag from a tight angle and the sides were level again. John Murphy converted yet another free to give Grange the lead but the following ten minutes would be the winning of the game as Tullow hit their purple patch and made it count. 

Firstly, Jacko and Byrne tapped over frees to give them the lead by one and although Lee Kavanagh would pick up a yellow card for a blatant trip, it actually served to disrupt Grange gathering any momentum and another Jacko free followed by a direct run and finish by TJ Kavanagh gave St. Patrick’s a four point lead.

A couple of John Murphy frees kept Grange within a score of the lead and they had two half goal chances but a point from Cathal Healy who got a second bite at the cherry after an attempted long ball in, that the Grange defence coughed back to him and he slotted it over for a three point lead. 

The game entered a tense final ten minutes which saw a few tetchy, scrappy moments which produced a yellow card for Cathal Bailey and a black card for Eoghan Cunnane. 

The final action of the game came from a point from the boot of Tom Dillon, a nice point, but too little, too late for Grange. 

A mention for David Hickey too, the man in the middle. He was as good as any ref could have been in a niggly, feisty local derby. 

St. Patrick’s were a more organised side and had more of the ball throughout the game and while a derby can always go either way, on balance, they were value for their win. 

With Tullow on top of the group on four points their game with Clonmore is really a matter of final positions but both sides are already through to at least a quarter final. Grange are in a winner takes all battle for 3rd place in the group with 4th place facing a relegation play off, most likely against Kilbride unless they can get over Balliabranna but even at that, they would be relying on score difference at best. 

St. Patrick’s: James Tobin; Shane Rohan, Rob Gahan, Eoghan Cleary; Dylan Gorman Comerford; Niall Sherry, Lee Kavanagh; Will Doran(0-1), David Orbinski; Jack O’Neill, TJ Kavanagh(0-2), Cathal Healy(0-1); Jack Kennedy(0-4), Cian Gorman Comerford, Brian Byrne(1-2). Subs: Adam Johnson for David Orbinski, Craig Staunton for Niall Sherry. 

Grange: Seamus Hegarty; John Doyle, Tom Kealy, James Hickey; Tom Dillon(0-1), Cillian Murphy, Henry Hegarty; Cathal Bailey(0-2), Fionn Murphy; Shane Cormican(0-1), Patrick Hickey, Ned Pender(0-1); Davy Moran, John Murphy(0-5), Alan Flemming(0-1). Subs: Kieran Pender for James Hickey. Emre Yilmaz for Shane Cormican. 

Referee: David Hickey (Fenagh)