O'Connor Park, Tullamore.
O'Connor Park, Tullamore.

Joe McDonagh Cup: Carlow defeat Offaly

Joe McDonagh Cup

By Kieran Murphy at O’Connor Park

Carlow 0-22 Offaly 0-17

Despite this surprising result at O’Connor Park, it is Kerry and Antrim who will meet in the Joe McDonagh Cup final this year. Carlow will be distraught with this outcome as they produced some of their best hurling for a number of years and it was one bad day at home against the Kingdom which ultimately undid them this season.

The visitors got off to the better start with Kevin McDonald rifling over a point just after the off. Marty Kavanagh added a free before Killian Sampson opened the home account with a point from play.

Chris Nolan, who has had a quiet enough Joe McDonagh Cup campaign so far this year, scored three of Carlow’s points out of six but much of that was undone by the concession of frees by the visitors.

Eoghan Cahill was deadly accurate and he picked off four points from placed balls with Stephen Corcoran, the Offaly goal-keeper, also finding the target from distance. Playing with the wind, Cahill nudged Offaly in front and it could have been more as they registered six wides in a 25 minute spell.

It was a tight affair and possibly this was understandable with a potential final appearance at stake. There were a number of edgy exchanges but the second quarter took the same course as the opening period with scores hard to come by.

Cahill continued to punish Carlow totting up a total of 0-7 with six of those scores coming from frees. On the other hand, Nolan ended the half for Carlow with four from play. At half-time the Faithful County led 0-10 to 0-8.

With the misty rain making life difficult for the players the game remained on a knife edge. Cahill remained the dominant for Offaly. Yet, Carlow weren’t going away. Coady and Kehoe scored their second points of the contest and Nolan added another three. With 17 minutes to go, Marty Kavanagh converted a long range free to put the visitors 0-15 to 0-14 ahead.

Carlow threw everything at the home side in the final quarter.

With the sun making a welcome appearance, Kevin McDonald scored three second half points for Carlow and Kavanagh converted four frees to bring his total to 0-6. At the back, Diarmuid Byrne complimented an excellent performance in the centre of defence landing a long range point.

Cahill was Offaly’s only real scoring threat and most of that came from placed balls. The Carlow defence were rock solid to the end but then came the heart-breaking news that Kerry had pulled off an unlikely victory in Corrigan Park to go through to the final.

Scorers for Carlow: C Nolan 0-7, M Kavanagh 0-6 (5fs), K McDonald 0-4, C Kehoe 0-3, R Coady 0-1, D Byrne 0-1f.

Scorers for Offaly: E Cahill 0-13 (11fs), K. Sampson 0-1, P Clancy 0-1, S Corcoran 0-1, D Nally 0-1 (sl).

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

Subs: John Nolan for P. Coady (67), Fiach O’Toole for R. Coady (73).

Offaly: Stephen Corcoran; Jack Screeney, Ciaran Burke, David King; Leon Fox, Ben Conneely, Padraig Cantwell; Eimhin Kelly, Jason Sampson; Killian Sampson, Eoghan Cahill, David Nally; Paddy Clancy, John Murphy, Liam Langton.

Subs: Brian Duignan for Langton (43), Adrian Cleary for Kelly (44), Luke O’Connor for Murphy (56), Shane Dooley for K Sampson (67), Joey Keenaghan for Nally (71).

Referee: Sean Cleere (Kilkenny).