Heroic Carrickcruppen cruelly robbed
Thursday, October 17th, 2013
CARRICKCRUPPEN 2-9 TERMON 2-10
Richard Bullick at Lowe’s Lane.
The last of several soul-destroying decisions by a replacement referee cruelly ended Carrickcruppen’s Ulster Senior Club Championship hopes after a pulsating semi-final.
Their magnificent fightback from seven points down against formidable Donegal champions Termon definitely deserved extra time but talismanic ‘Cruppen captain Caroline O’Hanlon was controversially called for over-carrying in the final few seconds of injury-time when it looked like she was being fouled on the edge of the square.
That really rubbed salt in the wounds in light of the number of steps a Termon player had been allowed to take earlier in the lead-up to a penalty which had left the hosts with a mountain to climb.
It also added insult to injury for the iconic O’Hanlon, who had been relentlessly targeted all afternoon by systematic fouling which wasn’t properly punished even though two visiting players did serve sin-bins.
But Termon got away with many more warnings in contrast to the soft sin-binning just before half-time of Armagh midfielder Caitlin Malone, who was influential in the fightback following her return to the field.
Fellow county star Marian McGuinness also stepped up in a frenzied final quarter as ‘Cruppen poured forward relentlessly, with full forward Caoimhe Murray’s 50th minute goal giving her team a massive boost.
Coming a couple of minutes after Termon had lost star forward Geraldine McLaughlin – who scored 5-4 at Lacken in the quarter-final – to the sin-bin, Murray’s confident finish, which closed the gap to a mere point, gave unfancied Carrickcruppen huge hope.
Megan Cinnamond kicked a great free to level the scores with five minutes remaining but Termon edged in front with one of their own as the clock ticked towards what would be a lengthy period of injury-time.
Aoife McCullough missed the chance of a winning goal when fisting past the far post after fielding a stray shot from an off-balance Murray and the ‘keeper just got to another rolling ball before the full forward.
There was still time for one more opportunity and, with their legendary leader O’Hanlon on the ball, the ‘Cruppen crowd were expecting her to draw a free or maybe more only to be incensed when the decision went the other way, followed by the final whistle.
Battered and bruised from an endless stream of illegal checks, hits and drags and utterly exhausted from her exertions, the heroic Carrickcruppen captain crumpled to the ground and didn’t leave the field for the best part of 20 minutes.
Unbowed by the physical punishment until the end, O’Hanlon heart had been broken by a fourth one point defeat in big games this season with county and club but the double All Star couldn’t have done much more in the Carrickcruppen cause.
She kicked five frees from six attempts, most of them awarded for fouls on her, and twice picked herself off the floor following lengthy treatment in either half.
Although trailing at half-time thanks to a Termon scoring spree late in the opening period when, ironically, the visitors were down to 14 players, Carrickcruppen had got off to a good start after choosing to play down the hill towards the clubhouse.
O’Hanlon kicked two frees either side of a first Termon effort and Natasha Lennon hit the net in the ninth minute only for the favourites to reply with a goal of their own in the space of 60 seconds.
Another foul on O’Hanlon was punished by a Cinnamond free and her next Termon assailant saw yellow. The home side’s inspirational skipper completed her hat-trick of frees following good approach play by Malone, Murray and Lennon before showing her worth in defence.
However Termon then reeled off a devastating burst of five points in four minutes to suddenly lead by two and ‘Cruppen were relieved when Malone stemmed the tide with one in reply though she might have gone a little lower with the shot.
‘Cruppen coped well without Malone at the start of the second half which, with both sides missing chances, remained scoreless until the disputed Termon penalty which was followed by a couple of points.
However O’Hanlon kicked two frees in as many minutes, McLaughlin got sin-binned, Aoife McCullough fired over a point and then Murray hit the net to set up that fantastic final 10 minutes.
CARRICKCRUPPEN (scorers): C O’Hanlon 0-5 (5f), N Lennon (1-0), C Murray (1-0), M Cinnamond 0-2 (2f), A McCullough 0-1, C Malone 0-1
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