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Brilliant Carn power past Newtown 15.03.12
All County League Division Three: 2011 Relegation Play-off

Carn...1-09

N. Colmcille...1-03


by Dónal Campbell, Inishowen Independent at The Scarvey, Buncrana

A RIP-roaring performance by Donnacha Gallagher inspired Carn to a comfortable six point win over a strangely flat Naomh Colmcille in this Division Three regulation play-off at The Scarvey on Sunday. Man-of-the-match Gallagher finished with 1-05 but was ably backed up from one to fifteen by a Carn side clearly determined to retain their Division Three status for the 2012 season.
Richie Cunningham opened the scoring five minutes in, his point kick-starting an early purple patch for Carn that would yield 1-03 by the eleventh minute. Garvan McGrenra and Paddy McCallion hit the points but it was that man Gallagher who was on hand to drill home the Carn goal – the big centre-half forward giving Marty Callghan no chance whatsoever in the Naomh Colmcille goal with a well-placed piledriver to the corner of the net.
Naomh Colmcille were already in big trouble – every breaking ball was being snatched up by John Gibbon’s side, who had clearly benefited from a couple of tight months’ pre-season preparation. Newtown looked extremely static in comparrison with the Inishowen men full of running and inventive play. Liam Grant finally got Newtown off the gound on the 14th minute but his point was cancelled out almost immediately when Donncha Gallagher split the posts from the dead ball. 1-04 to 0-01, Carn should have put the game entirely safe when the dangerous McGrenra raced through but his left-foot effort was smothered by an alert Callaghan in the Newtown goals.
In the 23rd minute a ’45, floated into the square by an out-of-sorts Barry O’Hagan, was pulled out of the air by Liam Grant and poked through a mass of legs to propel Newtown back into contention. Richie Cunningham responded with a Carn point before Newtown had the opportunity to bring themselves dramatically back into contention when Willie Gillespie was dragged down for a penalty. Up stepped O’Hagan, who had returned specifically for this game, but his effort was well parried by Gerard Crossan and cleared upfield. That was the turning point – for Newtown there would be no way back. They departed the pitch for the half time break with one foot in Division Four.
The second-half followed the same pattern: Carn producing the kind of hard-running football one would expect to see several games into the league. On the day they had very few passengers, if any, and hit 0-04 to Newtown’s 0-02 over the final half-hour.
Willie Gillespie (0-01) struck for Newtown a minute after the restart but a full half-hour would pass before Thomas McKinley recorded their next and only score of the half – a point on the 30th minute.
Gallagher helped himself to four second half points over the half-hour and with the Carn defence superb to a man, there was no way back for the understandably frustrated Newtown men. Dominic Doherty was also absoutely immense for the Carn men and ruled matters throughout at midfield. All in all, John Gibbon’s men were extremely good value for their win.
Carn’s delight at retaining their Division Three status was evident after the final whistle and they head into this year’s league with serious wind in their sails – if they play this sort of football in the months ahead they will not be found propping up the bottom of a league table any time soon.
For the dejected Newtown men it was the worst possible outcome – back to the basement for another year at least. On the day they were strangely lethargic and their talisman O’Hagan just wasn’t able to produce the heroics that have been central to their success of recent years. They must now regroup and focus on climbing the ladder back to Division Three.

Carn: Gerard Crosan; Michael Nelson, Lian Shields, Ryan Davenport; Paddy McCallion (0-1), Paddy Nelson, Dermot McGonagle; Dominic Doherty, Gerry Simpson; Richie Cunningham (0-2), Donnacha Gallagher (1-5), Garbhan McGrenra (0-1); Eenagh Newton, Gerard Doherty, Fergal Matthews. Subs: Padraig Doherty, Cathal O’Kane, Oliver McConalogue, Ryan Kelly, AN Other.

N. Colmcille: Marty Callaghan; Paul Friel, Alex Devenney, Mark Callaghan; Gerard Curran, Thomas McKinley (0-1), Ryan McKinley; Andrew Clarke, Shane McAleer; Liam Grant (1-1), Barry O’Hagan, Kieran Callaghan; Joe Donaghey, Ryan McErlean, Willie Gillespie (0-1). Subs: Anthony Grant, Stephen Davenport.

Man of the match
All the candidates were in the green and red of Carn – only Liam Grant, Ryan McErlean and Willie Gillespie posed any threat for the Newtown men. Dermot McGonigle and Michael Nelson were superb in defence for Carn and on any other Sunday Dominic Doherty would be their man of the match as he absolutely ruled midfield. On the day however it was Donnacha Gallagher’s contribution of 1-05 that marked him out as the star man.

Ref watch
Neither side would have any reason for complaint over the hour with Terence McShea’s on-field performance. He pulled up players from both sides for over-carrying on a number of occasions when it was difficult to spot the indiscretion. But that’s a minor complaint - a good hour by McShea.

Key moment
Barry O’Hagan versus Gerard Crossan. 25 minutes into the first half, the Armagh man stepped up to hit a penalty. A goal would have dragged Newtown back to within a point entirely against the run of play. Crossan was up to it however and got down extremely well to parry O’Hagan’s shot. Newtown went into the half-time break with a mountain to climb, Carn were already half-way there!

Talking point
After the game the rumour got up that Carn used six substitutes over the hour. This reporter noted five, but having positioned himself at the river side of The Scarvey it was extremely difficult, bordering on impossible, to keep track of who came on and off, as both sides handed substitution slips to the official linesmen and not the referee. As it was, neither this reporter nor a colleague present at the game got the name of Carn’s fifth sub. Carn certainly used five subs and Newtown two, but after the game Naomh Colmcille were adamant that Carn had introduced six. Terence McShea’s report will tell the tale – the penalty for using an additional sub is automatic forfeit of the game. That would be an extremely harsh outcome for John Gibbon’s men as they were the better team by far over the hour.

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