Late surge helps Carlow to McDonagh Cup victory over Kerry
Joe McDonagh Cup round one: Carlow 0-21 Kerry 0-18; Laois 1-21 Westmeath 2-21
A LATE surge helped Carlow make a winning start to their Joe McDonagh Cup campaign at a sun-drenched Netwatch Cullen Park yesterday.
The National League Division 2A champions held a slender 0-10 to 0-9 lead at the break before extending their advantage to three points within seven minutes of the restart. But the visitors rallied to lead by 0-18 to 0-16 with five minutes of normal time remaining, only to concede the last five points to the strong-finishing Barrowsiders.
Colum Harty, Pádraig Boyle and James Doyle all scored superb points as the two counties threw themselves into the game, posting 0-5 each in the first 10 minutes.
Ross Smithers drew the sides level late on when he sprinted clear of his man and tapped the ball over from the right corner, while three late points from play from Jack Kavanagh, Kevin McDonald, and James Doyle wrapped up the win for Carlow and gave them great momentum in advance of their trip to Belfast this Saturday.
Westmeath, meanwhile, bridged a 50-year gap on Saturday to take their first win Championship win over Laois since 1968.
Michael Ryan’s visitors played with the aid of a deceptively strong breeze in the first-half, but their inaccuracy meant they failed to fully exploit that assistance, even after Robbie Greville got them out to a great start when he placed an inch-perfect low shot under Enda Rowland.
Laois soon drew level as Westmeath started to rack up the wides, though they did move three points in front at various stages, with Eoin Price, Cormac Boyle and Ciarán Doyle all on the mark from open play. Their hurling was sharp and purposeful throughout, though eight missed chances – six of them struck right, on the terrace side of the ground – looked as if they might prove very costly.
Two frees from Ross King and points from Aidan Corby and Willie Dunphy made it 1-13 to 1-10 in favour of Laois at half- time, and with the breeze set to favour them in the second period, a comfortable home win looked likely.
They failed to push on, however, and once Derek McNicholas put Westmeath in front with a haymaker of a free from well inside his own half with two minutes to play, they never looked back, closing out the win with two points on the break.