Carnaross 2-15, Longwood 1-13
Carnaross got the better of Longwood after an entertaining, end-to-end encounter. Good conditions for football have been difficult to come by so far this year but there were no such issues in Carnaross, with the game played in strong evening sunshine on a freshly cut pitch.
Carnaross got off to a flying start in front of a large home crowd as Patrick McDermott and Frank O'Reilly combined to score the first four points of the game without reply. This included an outrageous effort from O'Reilly where he slotted over from an acute angle despite being fouled in the process of getting the shot away. Longwood, however, responded in the strongest possible fashion and let the home side know that they would not get anything easy from this game. They dominated the middle period of the first half and tagged 6 unanswered points to take a two point lead. Longwood's potent combination of patient build up play, incisive support running and judicious shot selection left Carnaross reeling and looking like they may be overwhelmed.
However, as happened several times during the game, momentum swung back in Carnaross favour. McDermott found Killian Porter with an inch perfect pass to put him clear through on goal. The wing-back made no mistake and found the back of the net, displaying the same finishing ability that earned him a corner forward berth on the Meath minor team back in 2003. O'Reilly's deadly accuracy from placed balls ensured that any Longwood mistakes were punished and 4 more points from him left Carnaross with a 1-8 to 8 points lead at halftime.
The second half picked up where the first had left off with no drop off in the pace of the game despite the lingering heat. Both teams continued their gung ho approach with chances aplenty on both ends of the field. Longwood managed to regain the lead midway through the half as they took advantage of an overlap to create a one-on-one goal chance which was duly converted. The game looked as though it might be slipping away from Carnaross as Longwood created a monopoly on breaking ball in the middle third. Carnaross, however, steadied the ship with the introduction of substitutes. Dylan Fox brought an injection of energy around the middle and won his fair share of possession, Declan Reilly provided an outlet in the full forward line and Shane McNiffe performed well in goals after replacing the injured Conor Kenny. The wily veteran Thomas Nugent used his experience to win several balls and draw fouls, while also exercising his vocal chords to ensure the referee was aware of these transgressions.
The play was mostly confined in the Longwood half for the remainder thanks to some stout defending and the Carnaross midfield came into their own in the last 10 minutes of the game. Dermot McGee added two points and Tomás Plunkett deceived the Longwood keeper to score the decisive goal. His looping effort looked destined to drop over the bar but caught the keeper out at the last second when it snuck just under and into the back of the net. There were some doubts as to whether or not it had been an own goal but the midfielder was adamant and deservedly took the credit.
Carnaross held on for the remainder and repelled a last minute goal effort from a short range free to run out winners on a scoreline of 2-15 to 1-13 after a rollercoaster game where the outcome was on a knife edge throughout. The win leaves Carnaross in third place and aiming for a top two spot and automatic promotion.
Carnaross: Conor Kenny, Peter Carpenter, Ian Donoghue, Jack Roche, Liam Brogan, Sam Reynolds, Killian Porter (1-1), Tomás Plunkett (1-0), Dermot McGee (0-2), Cian O'Reilly, Frank O'Reilly (0-11, 9f), John Brogan, Shane Casserly, Charles Brogan, Patrick McDermott (0-1). Subs: Shane McNiffe for Kenny, Dylan Fox for Casserly, Declan Reilly for John Brogan, Thomas Nugent for McDermott