Poor finishing has been a major problem for Carrickedmond for the past couple of years and that lack of scoring power led to their downfall against Carlow opponents Ballinabranna as the Longford Intermediate champions made a tame early exit from the Leinster Club competition.
A couple of hundred supporters gathered at a near deserted Pearse Park on Sunday last to watch a very bad match unfold and the physically stronger Ballinabranna outfit held the upper hand against the wind in the first half to establish a comfortable 1-3 to 0-1 lead at the break.
Nothing went right for Carrickedmond who suffered the double setback of losing key forward Marty Mulvey and quality goalkeeper Garret Higgins, both of whom were forced to retire injured in the 21st and 24th minutes respectively, and they had to wait until stoppage time for their first score.
Conor Kelly converted a close range free in the 31st minute but most of the damage had been done at that stage with Ballinabranna getting their crucial goal from a penalty converted by Jim Dunne midway through the first half, awarded after the corner-forward was stopped in his tracks by the Carrick keeper Higgins who got injured in the process of trying to keep his net intact.
Darren Lunney (8 mins), Conor McNally (14 mins) and Jim Dunne (free, 25 mins) got the Ballinabranna points in the first half and they stretched their advantage when full-forward McNally cut in from the right to fire the ball over the bar with a couple of minutes gone on the changeover.
Right throughout the game Carrickedmond were guilty of giving away possession cheaply in making many costly mistakes and they fell further behind when Jim Dunne slotted over another free in the 36th minute.
The home side badly needed a goal to get back into contention and both Patrick Farrell and Rioch Farrell had shots blocked down in the same attack before John O’Shea was unfortunate to hit the upright in his attempt for a point.
A second score for Carrickedmond eventually materialised when Conor Kelly converted a free in the 47th minute and the same player was on target from another free moments later before John Sheehan kicked a vital point for Ballinabranna in the 50th minute to ease the pressure.
Despite playing against the wind, Carrick were completely on top for the remainder of the match but they continued to squander good chances of closing the gap and ended up failing to register a single point from play.
Having said that, Conor Kelly fired over his fourth free in the 54th minute and the south Longford club were thrown a lifeline in the 58th minute when substitute John Lenehan finished the ball to the net following a goalmouth scramble.
But it came too late to stop Ballinabranna advancing to the quarter-final of the Leinster Intermediate Club Championship and the visitors made victory safe when their impressive No. 13 Jim Dunne converted a free in stoppage time.
CARRICKEDMOND: Garret Higgins; Johnny Gerety, Oisin Farrell, Rioch Farrell; Padraig McGrath, James Murray, Niall O’Farrell; John O’Shea, Barry O’Farrell; Marty Mulvey, Cathal Pearse Belton, Patrick Farrell; Conor Kelly (0-4, all frees), Mark McDonnell, Jonathan Keegan.
Subs:- Padraig O’Shea for M Mulvey (injured, 21 mins); David Shannon for G Higgins (injured, 24 mins); Kevin Moran for J Keegan (37 mins); Sean Kelly for CP Belton (47 mins); John Lenehan (1-0) for C Kelly (55 mins).
BALLINABRANNA (Carlow): Adrian Brennan; Colin Byrne, Bobby Daly, Jimmy Cahill; Graham Amond, Darren Geraghty, Danny Boland; William Ryan, Paddy Dunne; Michael Jackson, Gary Dunne, Darren Lunney (0-1); Jim Dunne (1-3, goal from penalty; points from frees), Conor McNally (0-2), John Sheehan (0-1).
Subs:- Sean Dunne for G Amond (half-time); Brendan Cahill for P Dunne (47 mins); Damien Sheehan for C Byrne (47 mins); James Kehoe for M Jackson (injured, 51 mins); Keelan Brennan for J Sheehan (57 mins).
Referee: Fergal Smyth