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Carlow defeated Antrim at Croke Park.

Carlow defeated Antrim at Croke Park.

Carlow triumph in Christy Ring Cup Final

Christy Ring Cup Final

Carlow 5-23 Antrim 4-15

By Paul Keane at Croke Park

James Doyle helped himself to a whopping 4-1 as Carlow claimed the Christy Ring Cup title and a place in the All-Ireland qualifiers after a fascinating Croke Park contest.

Doyle's first-half hat-trick put the Barrowsiders on the way to a famous win and the St Mullins man added a fourth late on in a remarkable nine-goal encounter.

Carlow captain Martin Kavanagh was also on the goal trail with a 48th minute major as the Leinster outfit secured an All-Ireland qualifier preliminary clash with Laois on June 24/25.

It's back to back final defeats for Antrim who lost to Meath after a replay last year and were always playing catching in front of 5,618 this time.

Ciaran Clarke did score an excellent 2-9 including two second-half goals and there were goals from Eoghan Campbell and Neil McManus too but they still came up well short of a terrific Carlow effort.

Antrim came into the game as favourites having beaten Carlow already in Round 1 of the competition back in April.

They only led briefly in the first quarter though and were blown away by the ferocity of Carlow's attack in the closing 15 minutes of the first-half.

The sides were level on four occasions up to 0-4 apiece when Carlow suddenly found an extra gear and begun to rack up the scores in quite stunning fashion.

Between the 22nd minute and the half-time whistle they outscored Antrim by 3-7 to 1-1.

Carlow's half-forward line cleaned up in the aerial contests and Antrim's defence, at times, was cut asunder.

Doyle scored his three goals in the space of just 11 minutes and his first two were almost identical.

Eddie Byrne cut through the Antrim defence in the buildup to the first goal, laying off a hand pass to his left for Doyle to blast home.

Kavanagh did the spade work for the second, but it was the same route of attack as he once again hand passed off to his left for Doyle to slam to the net.

Doyle's third, in the 34th minute, was all down to his own good work as he burned off Aaron Graffin on the left wing and sped clear before netting from a tight angle.

Campbell bundled in an Antrim goal in the midst of the madness, but they still trailed 3-12 to 1-7 at the break and faced a massive challenge to rescue the game.

John Michael Nolan scored two points after the restart to put Carlow 13 ahead and in dreamland.

There were some nervous moments as Antrim picked off a series of goals and their fourth, an excellent Clarke strike after a solo run, left just seven in it.

That was as close as the Ulster outfit got, though, as Carlow finished strong with free-taker Denis Murphy registering 11 points in total.

Doyle got his fourth goal in the 68th minute after another strong run that finally knocked the stuffing out of Antrim.

Scorers for Carlow: James Doyle 4-1, Denis Murphy 0-11 (11fs), Martin Kavanagh 1-1, Diarmuid Byrne 0-3, John Michael Nolan 0-3, Paul Coady 0-1, Richard Kelly 0-1, Chris Nolan 0-1, Jack Murphy 0-1 (0-1f).

Scorers for Antrim: Ciaran Clarke 2-9 (7fs, 165), Neil McManus 1-2 (1-1fs), Eoghan Campbell 1-0, Paul Shiels 0-1, Paddy McGill 0-1, Conor McKinley 0-1, Daniel McKernan 0-1.

*CARLOW: *James Carroll; Alan Corcoran, Paul Doyle, Gary Bennett; Richard Coady, David English, Richard Kelly; Jack Kavanagh, Diarmuid Byrne; John Michael Nolan, Paul Coady, Eddie Byrne; Denis Murphy, James Doyle, Martin Kavanagh.

*Subs: *Kevin McDonald for Jack Kavanagh (43), Chris Nolan for Paul Coady (46), Seamus Murphy for Byrne (58), Jack Murphy for Denis Murphy (69), Sean Whelan for Doyle (72).

ANTRIM: Chris O'Connell; Simon McCrory, John Dillon, Stephen Rooney; Ciaran Johnson, Paddy Burke, Aaron Graffin; Conor McKinley, Paul Shiels; Neal McAuley, Conor McCann, Eoghan Campbell; Conor Johnston, Neil McManus, Ciaran Clarke.

Subs: Niall McKenna for McAuley (26), Daniel McKernan for McCann (h/t), Paddy McGill for Shiels (48), Matthew Donnelly for Dillon (51), Conal Cunning for Johnston (68).

*REFEREE: *Mick Murtagh (Westmeath).

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