The confidence built up by the Carrick hurlers following their county championship triumph saw them go into Bank Holiday Monday's AIB Connacht Club Junior Championship semi-final in expectant mood.
Their opponents, Sligo champions Calry/St Joseph's were familiar foes but as the sides went through their warm-ups in Markievicz Park there further reasons for the Carrick enthusiasts to take hope. The Carrick team were on the pitch in good time and had a big panel with them as they went through the final pre-match exercises.
At the other end of the pitch the Calry players looked considerably less organised and until the last moment had barely 15 players taking part in the warm-up.
The encouraging signs continued when the ball was thrown in and Carrick won an early free which Clement Cunniffe dispatched over the bar from all of 65 metres.
Carrick doubled their advantage when Gavin O'Brien and Conal McGuire combined brilliantly to win possession and James Glancy was on hand to point from distance.
There was a touch of good fortune about Calry's opening score which arrived two minutes later. Conor Beirne's attempted clearance was blocked down and the sliothar fell kindly for Conor Griffin who scored the Sligo side's opening point.
If Carrick were frustrated by that score, what followed was a real sickener. Calry won the resulting puc-out and Ronan Cox dispatched an underhit shot towards the Carrick goal. There appeared to be no danger as goalkeeper Colin Moran raised his hand to catch the ball but it squirmed free and nestled in the net.
Moments later Keith Raymond split the posts with a free from near the sideline. Having bossed the opening exchanges Carrick found themselves trailing by three after 10 minutes.
Carrick replied with a Clement Cunniffe 65 but that was wiped out when Kevin Gilmartin released David Collery who pointed.
The closing stages of the second half were very competitive and although Calry extended their lead with points from Raymond (free) and Griffin, there was still reason for Carrick to believe they could turn the five point deficit around in the second half.
However, those hopes were dealt a severe blow two minutes before the interval. The Carrick defence failed to deal with Keith Raymond's delivery and when the ball fell to Kevin Gilmartin he finished to the net emphatically.
Carrick hit back with a Clement Cunniffe pointed free to leave the scoreline 2-5 to 0-4 in favour of the Sligo side at the break.
A bright start to the second half was essential from a Carrick point of view if they were to have any hope and a Clement Cunniffe pointed free two minutes after the restart was an encouraging sign.
The words of encouragement from the half-time team talk would no doubt have still been ringing in their ears when Carrick conceded a third goal to all but end their interest in the tie.
Once again a Keith Raymond free wasn't cleared properly by the Carrick rearguard and Eoin Doherty was the quickest to react to the loose ball. Doherty threw himself towards the sliothar while swinging his hurl and he made sufficient contact to take it beyond the reach of Colin Moran.
The body language from the Carrick players suggested that was a fatal blow and Calry, sensing their opponents vulnerability, added further points from frees taken by Keith Raymond and David Colllery.
Clement Cunniffe converted another free for Carrick after Liam Moreton was fouled but with 19 minutes still remaining that would prove to be Carrick's final score of the afternoon.
When assessing where it went wrong for them, Carrick will quickly point to the difficulty they had troubling the Calry full-back line and the lack of scores from play. With the exception of James Glancy's sixth minute strike, Carrick were toothless in attack.
As the game entered its closing quarter and the fog crept in closer to Markievicz Park, there was a distinct lack of a competitive edge to proceedings.
Five further Calry points from Raymond (two frees), Kevin Gilmartin, Conor Griffin and an excellent score from Eoin Doherty looked to have completed Carrick's misery but unfortunately their afternoon wasn't yet over.
With five minutes to go Liam Reidy delivered a ball towards the Carrick goal. Calry substitutes Daragh Cox and Michael O'Callaghan rose together, with Cox getting enough contact to divert the ball to the Carrick goal.
That completed the afternoon's scoring but there was time for yet further frustration for Carrick as two players were issued with red cards as Padraig McWeeney and Colm Moreton were both given their marching orders in injury time.
Game at a Glance
Main Man: Unfortunately all the star performers were representing Calry. Keith Raymond's free taking was excellent while Jamie Kenny and Fiachra Coyne both shone. Pick of the bunch was Ronan Cox who was excellent in midfield.
Talking Point: Where did it go wrong for Carrick? There were looks of disbelief after the game from those who expected the game to be much closer.
Turning Point: There was still plenty of time to recover from the bodyblow of conceding an early goal but the game was all but up for Carrick when they conceded a third, early in the second half.
Ref Watch: Two red cards and at least four yellows in a match that was often less than competitive and never dirty was a high return but overall Liam Gordon didn't do either side any harm.
Highlight: Not many to pick from a Carrick point of view but Calry will be very pleased with an excellent afternoon's work. Kevin Gilmartin's outstanding point with 11 minutes left was arguably the score of the day.
Lowlight: Overpowered in midfield, shut down in attack and cleaned out at the back, it was a tough afternoon for Carrick but they will be aware they didn't perform anywhere near their own standards and that is arguably the biggest disappointment.
Scorers: Clement Cunniffe 0-5 (4f, 1 65); James Glancy 0-1.
Team: Colin Moran, Hughie Glancy, Conor Byrne, Danny Beirne, Danny Beirne, Enda Moreton, Thomas Glancy, Vincent McDermott, Gavin O’Brien, Clement Cunniffe, David Tiernan, Cathal McCrann, Liam Moreton, Conal McGuire, Colm Moreton, James Glancy. Subs: Kevin McGrath for Byrne (HT), Padraig McWeeney for O'Brien (41)Conor Behan for L. Moreton (55)
Calry St Joseph's
Scorers: Keith Raymond 0-6 (6f); Eoin Doherty, Kevin Gilmartin 0-1 each; Ronan Cox, Daragh Cox 1-0 each; Conor Griffin 0-3; David Collery 0-2, (1f)
Team: Declan Reidy, Thomas Kelly, Jamie Kenny, Danny Keown, Fiachra Coyne, Liam Reidy, Daithi Hand, Ronan Cox, Keith Raymond, Conor Griffin, David Collery, Brian Shannon, Eoin Doherty, David Collery, Brian Shannon, Eoin Doherty, Michael Gilmartin, Kevin Gilmartin. Subs: Michael O'Callaghan for Doherty (53), Daragh Cox for R. Cox (55).
Referee: Liam Gordon (Galway)
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