Night to forget for Carlos
Saturday, April 22 2006 @ 02:27 am ACST
Contributed by: Brett Northey
AFL club Carlton had a bad night at Telstra Dome, going down to the emerging Hawthorn team by 32 points. The Blues have struggled for several years but have been more competitive in 2006, as they were again on Friday night against their fellow Melbourne-based club, trailing 4.6 (30) to 6.4 (40) at half time. The match also saw Irishman Setanta O'hAilpin play his second senior game for the Blues and it was hoped he would show marked improvement from 2005, but in what may be a major setback for his AFL aspirations, the tall forward struggled throughout the match.
O'hAilpin has put on many kilograms of muscle since moving to Australia but he continues to look lightly built up against hardened footballers. Disappointingly, even when up against Hawks youngster Zac Dawson, "Carlos" was outbodied and outmarked. This can often be as much from lacking judgement of the flight of the ball as it is from lack of strength. Coach Denis Pagan gave him approximately 40% of the game, with Setanta starting on the field but moving back and forth from the bench in the second half. He gave away one clumsy free kick when he dived at the ball when his opponent was always going to arrive first, thus being penalised for a push in the back. This appeared to be a case of misguided enthusiasm.
It wasn't all doom and gloom as his endeavour could not be questioned, and he snuck away to take a mark that should have resulted in a goal, but his shot went out on the full. Clearly he has learnt to kick better than that, and from a set shot would be very unhappy with the result - presumably the pressure distracted him from going through the basics which may still not be natural. Later in the game once Hawthorn had drawn away, Setanta intercepted a kick-in, the turnover resulting in a much needed Carlton goal. He finished with 1 kick and 2 handballs. In the end Hawthorn won 15.10 (100) to Carlton 9.14 (68), with bad kicking for goal costing the Blues any chance of staying in touch. Carlton are clearly fighting hard in 2006 while the Hawks are looking increasingly likely to make the finals for the first time in many years as their young side grows in confidence.
It seems unlikely Setanta will hold his spot, with first-choice players such as Fevola and Waite likely to return. The Irishman appeared to misread the flight of the ball, went to ground too easily and generally got lost on the field - reading where to run can take years to master. A return to the seniors may not occur soon, in which case it will take tremendous faith from Pagan and the club hierarchy to persist with him, especially as their host of other young talent develop. On the up-side, tall players often reach their best in their mid-20s, so at 23 and late to the game, Carlton may still be prepared to give the former hurling star all of 2007 as well. Certainly he would be looking to start dominating in the VFL in 2006 though, and you never know, Pagan may just want to give him a run of games in the AFL to allow him to settle in to the big time.