Netwatch Cullen Park.
Netwatch Cullen Park.

Joe McDonagh Cup: Carlow defeat Down

Joe McDonagh Cup

Carlow 2-25 Down 1-19

By Kieran Murphy at Netwatch Cullen Park

After losing two of their three opening games to Kerry and Antrim, Carlow set themselves a target of playing to their potential in their remaining Joe McDonagh Cup fixtures.

Whether they did so here at Netwatch Cullen Park it is hard to say but at least going into their final fixture against Offaly next Saturday in Tullamore, qualification is still very much in their hands.

Antrim will be favourites to beat Kerry next weekend who are still in contention so the Offaly and Carlow game could decide who goes through on the head to head rule.

The home side got off to the perfect start streaking into a 0-7 to 0-3 lead within the opening nine minutes. Marty Kavanagh, John Michael Nolan, Sean Murphy, Chris Nolan and Conor Kehoe were all in scoring form while Down’s Paul Sheehan was twice on target. Marc Fisher also fired over a long range free.

The corner back went on to score two more points from placed balls but as the half progressed Carlow stretched their lead. Kavanagh finished the half with six points as his side led 0-15 to 0-7 at the interval.

The game burst into life on 42 minutes when Carlow keeper, Brian Tracey, did well to parry a shot but Daithi Sands was on hand to find the net when pulling on the loose ball from close range.

Three more frees from Fisher inside the opening eight minutes of the second half asked questions of Carlow. They replied with Kavanagh accounting for two points. Fisher’s accuracy from placed balls reduced the margin further but the visitors could not build the momentum they needed to win.

If Carlow were rattled they didn’t show it and they responded well drawing a succession of frees which Kavanagh was only too happy to convert. The home side lost Jack Kavanagh to a second yellow but from a position of relative security the home side led by only four points with just five minutes to go.

In a battle of the free takers Kavanagh pushed the Carlow lead back to five.

It got better for them after that and Conor Kehoe latched onto a long delivery, held his ground and fired to the Down net. A minute later, at the same side of the pitch, Marty Kavanagh also drilled a low shot past Stephen Keith in the Down goal.

That finished the game as a contest. Down ruffled Carlow by scoring four points on the trot but the Barrowsiders had the final word with a point a piece from Sean Murphy and John Michael Nolan to finish the scoring.

Scorers for Carlow: M Kavanagh 1-13 (10fs 65), C Kehoe 1-2, S Murphy 0-5, JM Nolan 0-3, C Nolan, R Coady 0-1 each.

Scorers for Down: M Fisher 0-11 (9fs 2-65s), D Sands 1-1, P Sheehan 0-3 (2fs), P Og McCrickard, P Doran, R McCusker, C Egan 0-1 each.

Carlow: Brian Tracey; Jack McCullagh, Paul Doyle, Michael Doyle; Fiachra Fitzpatrick, Diarmuid Byrne, Jack Kavanagh; Kevin McDonald, Richard Coady; Sean Murphy, Chris Nolan, Conor Kehoe; Paul Coady, John Michael Nolan, Marty Kavanagh.

Subs: Gary Lawlor for McCullagh (53), Jon Nolan for C Nolan (56), Ted Joyce for M Kavanagh (68), Ciaran Kavanagh for P Coady (72).

Down: Stephen Keith; Michael Hughes, John McManus, Marc Fisher; Tom Murray, Matt Conlon, Caolan Taggart; Pearse Og McCrickard, Darragh Mallon; Liam Savage, Paul Sheehan, Ryan McCusker; Daithi Sands, Eoghan Sands, Tim Prenter.

Subs: Chris Egan for Sheehan (blood 29-permanent at h/t), Barry Trainor for Hughes (h/t), Conor Cassidy for Mallon (h/t), Oisin McManus for Savage (42), Gerald Hughes for McCrickard (49), Padraig Doran for Prenter (68).

Referee: Kevin Jordan (Tipperary).