Leinster Senior Hurling Championship
At Netwatch Cullen Park
By John Whelan
Carlow have turned around a four match losing streak to grab a vital win for Carlow hurling that sees them stay in the Leinster Championship for 2016. Half way through the second half Carlow were cruising and had an eight point lead, Westmeath were leading Laois and Carlow were going through the next round. Laois closed out their game stronger and won 1-20 to 1-17 to claim a place in the Leinster Quarter Final.
Netwatch Cullen Park was basked in warm sunshine for today’s game and with the lack of any significant wind conditions were perfect. Martin Kavanagh got Carlow up and running with an early free. Antrim saw an effort from of a free of their own travel low and cause Kevin Kehoe in the Carlow goal to save the shot and deflect out for a “65”. Paul Shiels converted the “65” to level the sides. Ciaran Clarke converted a free for Antrim and then Antrim seemed to switch on when they attacked the Carlow goal in numbers, Carlow tried hard to keep Conor Carson out and it was Conor Johnston who got the final shot away to the back of the net to give Antrim the lead and a tally of 1-2 in just three minutes.
Carlow knew they had to respond and Edward Byrne put in a strong shoulder on the sideline around the halfway mark to dislodge the ball, Paul Coady was able to score a point as a result of Byrne winning possession. Carlow were looking to grab control of the game once more and when Jack Kavanagh won the ball in midfield he somehow evaded four men and was fouled. Martin Kavanagh converted the resulting free. Edward Byrne and John Michael Nolan kept the Carlow momentum going with scores to level the sides on seventeen minutes.
Referee Cathal McAllister halted play on twenty one minutes and showed Martin Kavanagh a red card. Carlow did not panic after being reduced to fourteen men, Paul Coady took up the free taking duties and converted one to give Carlow the lead on twenty six minutes, Seamus Murphy added a point to extend the Carlow lead. Ciaran Clarke converted a free for Antrim on thirty one minutes, it was Antrim’s first score in some twenty one minutes. Paul Coady added another free to give Carlow a 0-8 to 1-3 lead at half time.
Halftime substitute Michael Bradley got Antrim’s first score of the second half. Paul Coady responded with a converted free on forty two minutes, Conor Johnston replied instantly with a point only for Coady to convert another free on the next attack from Carlow. John Michael Nolan then edged Carlow three points clear but Conor Johnston replied again for Antrim, there was nothing between the sides and something special was needed.
Paul Coady converted another free, then John Michael Nolan won the ball in front of the stand and from around the forty metre mark he stuck it over much to the delight of the Carlow crowd. Edward Byrne scored a point for Carlow and then came the big moment for Carlow. Paul Coady who handled the pressure of taking over the free duties calmly got his reward with a fine goal. Carlow were not done there, Mark Brennan slotted the ball over the bar despite being off balance. John Rogers plucked the ball out of the sky inside his own square and on the resulting attack Paul Coady put Carlow ten points clear.
Antrim’s Ciaran Johnston was shown a straight red on twenty one minutes. Odhran McFadden the Antrim corner back got Antrim’s first score in ten minutes to reduce Carlow’s lead to nine. Then came a lengthy stoppage. After a collision Ryan McCambridge had to receive attention on the pitch. After eleven minutes play resumed and Edward Coady was shown a straight red card. With it unclear how much time would be added on, Antrim started the resumed phase of play the sharper with Conor Johnston converting a free. Simon McCrory received a straight red on seventy five minutes. Antrim got three points to Carlow’s one in a three minute period to bring Antrim back to within six points.
Carlow extinguished any hope Antrim had when Sean Murphy found acres of space in front of goal, charged into it and rattled the back of the net. Carlow won the game 2-18 to 1-11 which means they will be in the Leinster Senior Hurling Championship in 2016 and Antrim will be in the Christy Ring Championship.
Kevin Kehoe, Shane Kavanagh, John Rogers, Alan Corcoran, Richard Coady, David English, Edward Coady, Diarmuid Byrne, Jack Kavanagh (0-2), Sean Murphy (1-0), Edward Byrne (0-2), John Michael Nolan (0-3), Seamus Murphy (0-1), Martin Kavanagh (0-2, 2f) Paul Coady (1-7, 5f) Subs: Jack Barron, James Kinsella, Craig Wall, Damien O’Neill, David Galway, Ger Coady ( on for JM Nolan 58 mins), Mark Brennan ( on for Seamus Murphy 37 mins), Peter Shaw, Aaron McKenzie