NEW BALANCE KENNEDY CUP – 11th -15th JUNE, 2019

A squad of twenty Lads, together with their Coaches and League Officials, as well as Physios and a Chef left Carlow .

on Tuesday morning to embark on a journey that they have been in intensive preparation for, over the past three years.

The anticipation and excitement was palpable and this spread to a large crowd of very proud Parents, who were delivering their ‘budding stars’ to the meeting point and many of them were then travelling separately down to University of Limerick, for the duration of this prestigious tournament.

Ahead of them all were five days of Football that would be very competitive and gruelling and would test their mettle, resolve and skills in equal measure.

After settling into their accommodation, their first match was against Donegal at 6pm that evening and so the story began – read on !

Match 1 – 11/06/19 at 6pm.

CDJL 3 – 0 DONEGAL.

Donegal won the toss and took advantage of playing with a really stiff breeze and Donegal were quickly into their stride, passing the ball about very well, ‘on the deck’.

The initial stages were quite scrappy, as both teams were trying hard to master the tricky wind, however, Carlow were quicker into the action, as a long ball from Jack Kenny into the six-yard box, was met by Jack Feehan, who volleyed the ball home from six yards, for 1-0, on seven minutes and this early score gave Carlow a tremendous fillip.

Donegal’s Eoin Kelly won a corner and took it himself, but a great defensive block from Andrew Vint prevented a near certain goal.

It was ‘end to end stuff’ as Oisin Duffy turned his man and crossed, but some strong defending by the Carlow defence thwarted the danger and it was then Carlow’s turn to threaten, as Peter Grogan combined with Cian Gorman-Comerford, but the Donegal defence stood strong to shut them out.

Ciaran Fitzgerald was really dominant in the air for Carlow, as he won header after header, to prevent Donegal’s attackers getting through on goal.

A great run by Peter Grogan saw him out-pace four Donegal defenders and he then crossed into Jack Feehan, who gleefully swept the ball home, from close range to make it 2-0, on twenty-five minutes and Donegal wondering what had hit them – it was the Carlow Storm !

There was a real ‘ding-dong’ battle in midfield for ball supremacy, as both teams were giving their utmost, with no quarter given or requested.

Half-time came with Carlow hanging on to their two goal ‘cushion’ and it was well deserved.

Donegal came out in the second-half ‘firing on all cylinders’ and Aidan Brennan played in Eoin Kelly who brought out a fine save from Ben McCarron and they were being well prompted by Sean McMenamin, in mid-field, who was also trying to stem the impact of Peter Grogan, who was causing all sorts of mayhem, every time he got on the ball.

Donegal were still persisting with their passing game, but they had no real ‘end- product’, as Carlow’s defence was on top form and nullified all their efforts.

Carlow were playing to their strengths, with both Jack Feehan and Peter Grogan seeing plenty of ball and causing potent threats to the Donegal defenders, as they strove to get another goal to clinch the match.

A ‘cross cum shot’ by Donegal’s Shea Malone produced a terrific save by Ben McCarron, at the expense of a corner, which was eventually cleared.

Yet another great run and cross by Peter Grogan was cleared by Donegal and just after Jack Feehan shot high and wide of goal, as Carlow continued to dominate.

Another good cross from Peter Grogan saw Josh Brady play in Shane Duffy, who half-volleyed the ball home from close range to get that elusive third goal and make it 3-0, on nineteen minutes.

Carlow really started to put the pressure on Donegal, with the whole team ‘grafting’ for each other, with Brandon Cassidy working tirelessly in midfield.

Another run by Peter Grogan found Lee Carpenter, who turned and shot, but his effort was saved by Charlie Byrne in the Donegal goal.

Right near the end – ‘that man’ Peter Grogan, ‘capped’ a ‘Man of the Match’ performance by outstripping the Donegal defence, once again, as he cut in and fired in a shot that unfortunately, hit the post.

The whistle came shortly after and Carlow had a 3-0 victory, in what was the best of starts.

Absolutely standing out for Carlow was Peter Grogan and he was ably abetted by Brandon Cassidy, James Boland and Jack Feehan, whilst best for Donegal were Aidan Brennan, Sean McMenamin and Mark McGlynn.

Match 2 – 12/06/19 at 12.30pm.

CDJL 3 – 0 LIMERICK DESMOND.

It was a breezy day, but overcast and dry for CDJL’s second of their group-Stage matches, where they faced Limerick Desmond, in the first of two games played last Wednesday.

Straight from the start, Limerick’s Ray Scannell made a good run, but he was crowded out by the Carlow defence and they quickly turned defence into attack, as Andrew Vint released Peter Grogan, who outstripped his defender and crossed into the Limerick box, where Jack Feehan was lurking and he prodded the ball home from two yards, to make it 1-0, after only two minutes of play.

Limerick won a free-kick on half-way which was punched clear by Ben McCarron – Carlow’s keeper.

Some good close control and some twisting and turning by Limerick’s John Fitzgerald, gave him some space, but he shot well over the crossbar and then a cross from Andrew Vint, gave Jack Feehan the opportunity to try an overhead kick that, but it went well wide.

There was more great work by Brandon Cassidy who was winning the ‘midfield battle’ for Carlow and he found Peter Grogan who went on yet another run but his cross went behind for a goal-kick.

Carlow were in the ascendancy at this time and were starting to dominate proceedings, but Limerick were still dangerous, as Ciaran McMahon picked up a loose ball and shot narrowly wide.

Then on twenty-two minutes – Peter Grogan went down the right and cut into the penalty box and Limerick held off him and Peter scored from five yards to make it 2-0 to Carlow, amid scenes of jubilation.

Limerick’s Jack O’Sullivan picked up a ball on the edge of the Carlow box, but he shot high and wide and the chance went abegging.

Limerick were awarded a free-kick 35 yards out and it was taken by Tiernan Meaney and it was a vicious dipping shot, that ben McCarron did extremely well to tip on the bar and subsequently it was cleared, but it was a close thing.

Limerick were looking threatening, but they couldn’t fashion any real clear-cut chances, whilst Carlow were knocking the ball around really well and maintaining possession and limiting the amount of time that Limerick had on the ball.

Half-time came with Carlow holding on to their comfortable 2-0 lead.

Straight after the kick-off for the second-half Josh Brady played a really astute through ball into Jack Feehan who crossed it in and Peter Grogan hit a thunderbolt of a shot that smacked against the crossbar and rebounded to safety.

After only three minutes, Brandon Cassidy released Peter Grogan down the right and he cut into the Limerick box and coolly slotted home for his brace and a 3-0 lead to Carlow.

Limerick were rushing their passes and making mistakes, under the relentless pressure that Carlow were imposing on them and Brandon Cassidy was outstanding, in all that was good about Carlow.

Both teams ‘rang the changes’ which disrupted the game until the substitutes got used to the speed and intensity of the game.

A long ball was headed on to Carlow’s Shane Duffy and he went round the limerick keeper – Kevin O’Connell, but then shot wide of an empty goal.

Another great run and cross by Peter Grogan went right across the Limerick goal and was just missed by the onrushing Shane Duffy and Jack Feehan and it really was ‘champagne football’ by Carlow at this stage of proceedings.

Limerick’s Ciaran McMahon twisted and turned in the Carlow box, but he shot straight at Ben McCarron, who saved comfortably.

Limerick never gave up and were trying their hardest to get back into the game, but they were finding it very difficult to do so.

Carlow won a corner and Ciaran Fitzgerald ‘rose like a salmon’ and headed home, but the goal was disallowed, which would have ‘put the icing on the cake’ for Carlow, but it wasn’t to be and they saw out the rest of the game to finish with their second 3-0 victory in a row and two ‘clean -sheets’.

‘Man of the Match’ for Carlow was Brandon Cassidy, with Ciaran Fitzgerald, Peter Grogan and Jack Kenny also standing out, whilst best for Limerick were Jack Long, Aidan Brennan and Shea Malone.

Match 3 – 12/06/19 – at 6pm.

SLIGO/LEITRIM 0 – 1 CDJL.

Sligo/Leitrim started the brighter and were quickly into their stride and after a good run by Sean Hartigan, who then played it to Michael Clifford, who in turn fed Dylan Lacken, who blasted the ball high and wide.

After only seven minutes, Carlow were awarded a free-kick when Peter Grogan was fouled and the ball was floated in by Jack Kenny’s ‘educated left-foot’ and Jack Feehan headed the ball high into the Sligo/Leitrim net for a vital 0-1 lead.

Sligo/Leitrim’s Michael Clifford worked himself a position to shoot, but he shot well over the bar, as they put pressure on the Carlow defence.

Sligo/Leitrim won the ball and some good interplay by Dylan lacken and Michael Clifford was eventually ‘snuffed out’ by the Carlow defence.

A great through ball found Jack Feehan and he went around Sligo/Leitrim’s keeper Oran Henry, but his shot was blocked and Josh Brady picked it up, but the ball was eventually cleared.

Brandon Cassidy continued with his excellent performances in this tournament and he was ‘terrier-like’ in midfield, as he harassed the Sligo/Leitrim mid-fielders – not giving them an inch and Cian Gorman – Comerford was also a ‘giant’ also in midfield, as he utilised his height and strength to great effect.

Sligo/Leitrim were probing Carlow’s defence, with Ronan Niland, Michael Clifford and Lee Conway all prominent, but Carlow’s defenders were ‘tigerish’ in their tackling and in ‘closing’ their opponents down and half-time came with Carlow holding on to their slender 0-1 lead.

Sligo/Leitrim started the second half really well, putting immense pressure on the Carlow defence, but Captain –James Boland was very calm and accomplished at the back, ably assisted by Ciaran Fitzgerald, with Shane Duffy, doing a similar job in midfield, along with Cian Gorman-Comerford.

Sligo/Leitrim weren’t giving up and indeed they stepped up their intensity, but Carlow were ‘up for it’ and they increased their own work-rate to try and thwart Sligo/Leitrim’s renewed efforts, to get back into the game.

As the final whistle drew near, there was some really good tactical play by Lee Carpenter, who had another fine cameo and Brandon Cassidy, where they held on to the ball, close to the Sligo/Leitrim’s corner flag, to run down the clock.

Then with just seconds to go, some good play by Michael Clifford found Daire Callaghan, clear in the box with only Ben McCarron to beat, but happily for Carlow, he dragged his shot wide of the far post and it was over.

Carlow were in ‘heaven’ as they ‘topped’ the Group for the first time ever, had three wins, three clean-sheets and nine points and their large support were in ecstasy.

‘Man of the Match’ for Carlow was Cian Gorman- Comerford and he was aided by Andrew Vint, Shane Duffy and Ben McCarron, whilst standing out for Sligo/Leitrim were Michael Clifford, Ronan Niland and Lee Conway.

QUARTER FINAL.

CDJL 1 – 0 WATERFORD - 13/06/19 at 5pm.

After ‘topping’ their group for the first time ever, Carlow met Waterford in the quarter-final, as their journey into ‘unknown reaches’ of the Kennedy Cup continued.

Waterford started the brighter with a shot from Josh Hegarty being saved by Ben McCarron and he followed that up with a run and cross, but it went behind.

Waterford’s Conor McCabe nearly got in, but Ben McCarron was alert to the danger and was out quickly to smother the shot and Carlow were clearly under great pressure, as the game unfurled.

Josh Hegarty got clear, but Ciaran Fitzgerald managed to put the ball out for a throw and Carlow were taking a long time to settle, with Waterford well on top, as Bassit Ishola got to the bye-line, but over-ran the ball.

Finally Carlow got into the game as Josh Brady played in Peter Grogan who crossed to Shane Duffy who fired in a shot, but it was disallowed for offside.

John Hegarty who ‘was on fire’ got in a good cross, but it was headed clear by Shane Duffy and finally Carlow started to gain more possession, as they won a corner, which was cleared.

Carlow then ‘burst into life’ as Peter Grogan was fouled on the edge of the box and took the kick himself and produced a good save from Dara Kavanagh – the Waterford keeper, at the expense of a corner.

The ball came in and the ball ‘bobbled’ around, before Carlow getting another corner and this was subsequently cleared by the Waterford defence.

Waterford then won a free-kick 25 yards out and Jack Twomey fired it in, but it was ‘fumbled’ by Ben McCarron, but Ciaran Fitzgerald was ‘on hand’ to clear yet again.

Jack Feehan made a great break, but was tripped and a free-kick given, when Shane Duffy was close by and the Referee could have allowed play to continue, but didn’t and the free-kick by Josh Brady went wide.

The game was now ‘end to end’ and after a great run by Jack Twomey – he played in Calum Flynn whose shot produced a great save from Ben McCarron and the ball went back to Flynn and brought out another instinctive reflex save by McCarron.

Carlow were coming into the game, more and more, but they were guilty of drifting offside, which was curtailing their attacks and Waterford had a lot to thank Jack Twomey for, who was absolutely magnificent in midfield, winning ball and driving forward.

Just before half-time, Bassit Ishola shot and Ben McCarron brought off a tremendous save to leave the scores level at 0-0, at the interval, with Carlow having ‘ridden their luck’ throughout the half.

It was more of the same from Waterford, in the second-half, as a Calum Flynn cross was punched clear by McCarron and the resultant corner was eventually cleared by Cian Gorman-Comerford and Waterford were really pressing Carlow.

After a long cross into the Carlow box, the ball went loose and was latched on to by Calum Flynn, who hit a thunderbolt of a shot from only six yards, but Andrew Vint really ‘put his body on the line’ as he made a truly magnificent block to stop the score.

The ball was cleared upfield, where a mix-up in the Waterford defence, allowed Peter Grogan to flick home from five yards to get that ‘all-important’ first score, only five minutes into the half, for 1-0 and you could see Waterford visably deflate, as they had been well on top, whilst Carlow celebrated their lead.

It was a real battle in midfield, as both sides fought ‘tooth and nail’ to gain supremacy.

John Phiri was doing really well against Bassitt Ishola, one of the Waterford ‘danger men’ who did create a chance to shoot and that produced an amazing save from Ben McCarron to keep him out.

The clock was ticking and everybody on the Carlow team, did their best to thwart a brave Waterford side, who just never gave up and the final whistle eventually arrived, with Carlow going through to the Semi-Final, courtesy of that single and most valuable goal, by Peter Grogan.

‘Man of the Match’ for Carlow was Shane Duffy, with Andrew Vint, Ben McCarron standing out, as well as a fine cameo from John Phiri, whilst best for Waterford were Jack Twomey, Bassit Ishola and Josh Hegarty.

SEMI- FINAL.

CDJL 0 – 2 MAYO – 14/06/19 at 3pm.

Mayo made a quick start and they won a free-kick, which they took quickly, but Shane duffy was alert to the danger and played the ball back to Ben McCarron who cleared downfield.

Mayo’s Ronan Clarke sent in a fine cross, which Ben McCarron palmed out for a corner, which was over-hit and Carlow cleared their lines.

Carlow’s Shane Duffy found Cian Gorman-Comerford, after some good play but he ‘blasted’ high and wide.

Mayo were playing out from the back and were looking very assured and comfortable on the ball, always through their team, although after a great tackle by Carlow’s Brandon Cassidy released Shane Duffy but his dangerous cross was cleared by the Mayo defence.

Some great play from Peter Grogan released Shane Duffy and Mayo’s keeper – Conor Walsh, some twenty five yards out, which necessitated a lengthy stoppage and Carlow were awarded a free-kick, taken by Cian Gorman-Comerford, who aimed for the top corner but Walsh got a hand to it, to concede a corner and he tipped that over for another, which Mayo cleared.

Carlow had ‘upped’ their game and were pressing and closing down Mayo really well and were in ascendency, at this stage of the game.

Carlow won a free-kick and a long ball was played into Peter Grogan who fed Shane Duffy, but his shot was palmed out for a corner by Conor Walsh and James Boland got in a shot from the resultant cross, but it was saved.

Mayo’s dangerous striker – Adam Nugent went on a great run, down the left and out-paced the Carlow defence and crossed but the ball was cleared off the line by Andrew Vint, as Carlow breathed a sigh of relief.

Some great play between Jack Feehan and Shane Duffy saw the ball crossed into Josh Brady who hit a fine volley, but once again Conor Walsh saved it comfortably.

Josh Brady performed a ‘double pull back’ to avoid three midfielders who had him closely surrounded, with some amazing skill and he then played the ball out to Peter Grogan on the wing and this brought ‘gasps of astonishment’ from all of the Carlow contingent – who nick-named it ‘the Brady Shuffle’.

Just before half-time a flowing move involving Jack Kenny, Shane Duffy and Jack Feehan resulted in a free-kick to Carlow, which was subsequently cleared by the Mayo defence.

Half-time came with a 0-0 scoreline, with nothing between the two teams.

Carlow started the quicker of the two teams and Carlow won an early free-kick that Jack Kenny took, but he over-hit it and it went out for a goal -kick.

Good defensive play came from Andrew Vint, who ‘shepherded’ out a ball for a goal-kick, under severe pressure from Mayo’s Adam Nugent.

A Josh Brady through ball found Shane Duffy, in a central position and he shot but hit the bar and he was given offside and this was the closest either side had come to scoring, so tight was the game.

Although Carlow were starting to dominate proceedings, the lively and dangerous Adam Nugent who was leading the line really, got free and shot, but he hit the bar, with the ball rebounding to safety.

Some more great play by Jack Feehan saw him win a ball that he had no right to and he played in Peter Grogan who flashed the ball across the six-yard box, but it was just too far in front of the on-rushing Josh Brady.

Carlow won a corner and a magnificent catch, under great pressure, by Conor Walsh thwarted Carlow once again.

Mayo’s Ronan Clarke, Adam Nugent and Kevin Kitterick were all prominent in midfield and Ciaran Fitzgerald and James Boland had to be at their very best to keep them out, but they were well up to the task.

Adam Nugent then went on a determined run and won a corner and Carlow ‘switched off’ for a moment and Mayo defender Daniel Kelly found some space at the back post and neatly headed home for 0-1 only five to go.

Carlow threw everything at Mayo, but they were guilty of over-hitting free-kicks and corners and with only a minute to go, they won a corner and everybody went up for it, but Mayo cleared it and were two on one and when Adam Nugent received the ball in clear space and he neatly chipped Ben McCarron to make it 0-2 and shortly after the final whistle came and Carlow’s dream of getting to the Final was shattered, whilst Mayo were jubilant.

Carlow’s ‘Man of the Match’ was jointly received by Jack Kenny and Ciaran Fitzgerald, who were ably assisted by James Boland, Josh Brady and Cian Gorman-Comerford, whilst standing out for the victorious Mayo side were Ronan Clarke, Adam Nugent and Conor Walsh.

THIRD/FOURTH PLAY-OFF – 15/06/19 at 1.15pm.

CDJL 2 – 4 LONGFORD.

The conditions were ideal for this match, with Carlow ‘ringing the changes’ to ensure that everybody in the squad had some game-time and it took a while for Carlow to adapt to all the changes.

It was a really bright start from Longford and they disposed a Carlow defender and the very lively Paddy Moran shot home into the bottom corner, to give Longford an early 0-1 lead, after only three minutes.

Longford were very physical, as were Carlow and there were a number of stoppages for injuries that were necessitated, as a result, as both sides battled for supremacy in midfield.

Carlow came more into the game, but on eighteen minutes, Andrew Flynn played in Paddy Moran who fired home for his brace, to make it 0 – 2 and Longford seemed to be ‘cruising’ with a comfortable two goal cushion.

That all changed on twenty minutes as Carlow’s Luke Murphy won a free-kick and he sent over a cross-field pass to James Ingram, who was in the clear and he smashed home a ‘pile-driver’ from all of twenty five yards for Carlow’s ‘Goal of the Tournament’ and make it 1-2.

However, Carlow were caught ‘napping’ when a cross from Josh Kelly found Kyle Birney and he headed home to make it 1-3.

Carlow were playing much better now and they were switching the play, with some good cross-field passing, but against the run of play Kyle Birney got free down the right and shot powerfully into Carlow’s side-netting.

A great cross by Cialan Brady found James Ingram whose powerful shot brought a great save from Kristan Fakova in the Longford goal.

A James Boland free-kick was played to John Phiri and he went on a run and he had really good ball retention, but in the end he was crowded out, as Longford cleared their lines.

Carlow’s Lee Carpenter was leading the line well and he was assisted by Luke Murphy, who was finding his team-mates well, with his passing and then just before the interval, a mix-up between Carlow’s Keeper and defenders gave Longford a free-kick, but Matthew Carey blasted it high over the bar and shortly after, the half-time whistle came, with Longford leading 1-3.

In the second –half, Longford started to press and Paddy Moran and Kyle Birney were both prominent with their speed and trickery, whenever, they got on the ball and Carlow’s defenders were having great difficulty in restraining them.

Carlow ‘rang the changes’ and this made a difference as Lee Carpenter made a great run and won a corner, which was subsequently cleared by Mayo.

An unbelievable run by Jack Feehan, saw him go past four defenders and he finally fired into the side-netting and just after Feehan won a ball, with a great tackle and the ball was ‘picked up’ by Lee Carpenter who gleefully shot home from an acute angle, to make it 2-3 and all to play for.

Longford’s Solomon Eduard was very prominent ‘as he was here, there and everywhere’ making things happen for his side and Carlow were trying their hardest to find an equaliser but despite some good and strong play, they just couldn’t breech Longford’s strong and robust defence.

With less than a minute to go Paddy Moran latched on to a ball just outside the Carlow penalty area and flashed home a fine shot into the far corner, to complete his ‘hat-trick’ and make the final score 2-4 to Mayo.

‘Men of the Match’ for Carlow were Luke Murphy and Lee Carpenter, who were assisted by John Phiri, Evan Corr and Cian Ray, whilst best for Longford were Paddy Moran, Soloman Eduard and Kyle Birney.

SUMMARY,

So ended Carlow’s journey at the 2019 Kennedy Cup with a very commendable and historic fourth place, which elevates them from fourth seeds to second seeds in 2020 and lays down a legacy for future generations of players in Carlow, both boys and girls.

CDJL’s Executive hope that this year’s efforts at National levels, will have a great effect on the numbers of players taking part in next year’s competitions and hopefully, we will be pushing on in all competitions that we enter and will be vying with the ‘big boys’ as we strive to play and compete at the very highest level and ‘punch’ well above our weight.

Any Players who are interested in playing for any of our Academies in 2020 should contact the personnel outlined on our Website and who knows where it will take you? – just get involved and you’ll get a warm welcome and an opportunity to show what you can do.

There will be major changes coming ‘down the line’ in both the FAI and SFAI, once all the various official reports have been completed and fresh ideas are implemented and matters are fully transparent throughout Football and this can be only for the common good, particularly, at Grassroots level, so it’s a good time to get involved.

Overall Report by Bob Howson – Vice- Chairman and Public Relations Officer – 16/06/19.

16/06/2019 15:51