Joe McDonagh Cup: Carlow prevail in tense finish
Joe McDonagh Cup Round 1
CARLOW 2-22 KILDARE 3-16
Kevin Egan at St. Conleth’s Park
Kildare’s first game in Joe McDonagh Cup competition ended in defeat this afternoon, as two goals from Kevin McDonald in an explosive third quarter at St. Conleth’s Park gave Carlow just enough cushion to hold on against a stubborn challenge from the home side.
Carlow finished this year’s Allianz Hurling league campaign in very strong form but they left that behind them in the early stages of this encounter, failing to score in the opening 12 minutes while missing the target with a series of shots and dropping several more short and into the hand of Paddy McKenna.
Kildare, in contrast, were hugely efficient in every sector in those opening exchanges. Declan Flaherty and Simon Leacy came up with some excellent defensive turnovers, Brian Byrne hurled a lot of ball through the middle and they quickly moved 0-4 to no score in front through three frees and a glorious long range score from Flaherty, at a time when there was no real wind advantage to either team.
Paddy McKenna made a great recovery to clear the sliothar off the line when it looked as if Kevin McDonald’s flick of the sliothar off Flaherty’s hurl looked like it would generate the game’s first goal, but Carlow were about to find their stride. A couple of excellent scores from John Michael Nolan and Jon Nolan eventually settled Tom Mullally’s side into the game and as Kildare’s accuracy started to desert them, the game was levelled by the 25th minute at 0-7 apiece.
Carlow continued to hold the upper hand for the remainder of the half and led by 0-11 to 0-8 at the break, but a superb goal from James Burke in the fourth minute of the second half put the result back in the melting pot again.
That score also ignited a contest that was intriguing, but had lacked do-or-die intensity up to that point. A long diagonal ball was brilliantly fielded by John Michael Nolan and he turned down the option of a simple point, instead setting up McDonald for Carlow’s first goal.
Kildare replied instantly, Caolan Smith sweeping the sliothar to the net after a sideline cut was dropped into a packed goalmouth and the loose break fell perfectly for the Clane man, but McDonald was soon on target again for his second green flag, capitalising on good pressure from the Carlow inside forward line when Kildare were trying to clear their lines.
That score pushed the lead out to six, but Kildare weren’t done yet. Jack Sheridan fired over a free, James Burke followed up with his second goal and the home side’s third, and from then on it was nip and tuck right up until the final whistle. A series of Carlow frees pushed the lead out to four, but Kildare kept coming, with Cathal Derivan and Shane Ryan on the mark with good scores.
It wasn’t quite enough however, as Carlow got the win they needed to set up a fascinating encounter with Westmeath on home soil this day week.
Scorers for Carlow: Chris Nolan 0-10 (0-6f), Kevin McDonald 2-2, David English 0-3f, John Michael Nolan (0-1 sideline), Jon Nolan, James Doyle 0-2 each, Richard Coady 0-1.
Scorers for Kildare: James Burke 2-2, Jack Sheridan 0-5f, Brian Byrne 0-4f, Caolan Smith 1-0, Declan Flaherty, Kevin Whelan, Conor Dowling, Cathal Derivan, Shane Ryan 0-1 each.
CARLOW: Brian Tracey; Dion Wall, Paul Doyle, Michael Doyle; Ger Coady, James Doyle, Tony Lawlor; David English, Richard Coady; Jon Nolan, Chris Nolan, Craig Wall; Kevin McDonald, John Michael Nolan, Ted Joyce.
Subs: Jack McCullagh for Joyce (26, temp), Jack Kavanagh for Lawlor (48), Gary Lawlor for Wall (52), Paul Coady for R Coady (65), Aaron Amond for Joyce (70+3).
KILDARE: Paddy McKenna; Simon Leacy, Rian Boran, Cathal Derivan; Jack Travers, Declan Flaherty, Kevin Whelan; Brian Byrne, Cathal Dowling; Kevin Aherne, James Burke, Johnny Byrne; Cathal McCabe, Jack Sheridan, David Slattery.
Subs: Conor Dowling for Aherne (30), Caolan Smith for J Byrne (half-time), Shane Ryan for McCabe (45), Seán Christianseen for Flaherty (45).
Referee: Colum Cunning (Antrim)