Hurling & Camogie

Carlow secure promotion against battling Down

Despite defeat the Ardsmen still have a chance of finishing third and taking on Laois in a semi-final

Down senior hurling manager Ronan Sheehan hit out at the alleged sectarian abuse of his players by Carlow opponents. Picture Mal McCann
Silver lining: Down senior hurling manager Ronan Sheehan will be pleased with the performance if not the result. Picture Mal McCann
Allianz Hurling League Division 2A, round four
Carlow 3-20 Down 2-18

A BATTLING display by Down at Netwatch Cullen Park went unrewarded as they eventually lost by five points.

A slow start was ultimately their undoing but they got themselves right back into the game when Daithi Sands scored two goals in the space of 30 seconds to tie the game with 20 minutes to go. But that was as good as it got against a team who have now confirmed their promotion to Division 1B.

Last year’s McDonagh Cup winners led by nine points at one stage during the first half after a flying start.

Marty Kavanagh blasted a penalty to the net after seven minutes after Chris Nolan had been fouled to make it 1-2 to 0-0, and by the time James Doyle scored their second goal in the 27th minute they were nine points ahead, 2-7 to 0-4.

However Down served notice that they weren’t about to roll over by cutting the gap back to six by the half-time break, 2-10 to 0-10.

Pearse Óg McCrickard and Tim Prenter were the key scorers during that period when Down began to haul themselves back into the game.

Still, Carlow held the advantage and they had the ball in the net for a third time early in the second half but Chris Nolan’s effort was ruled out.

With 20 minutes to go, Down then stunned the hosts with two quickfire goals.

Sands got the first of his brace when he reacted quickest after Marc Fisher’s free dropped into the Carlow goalmouth. Carlow barely had time to catch their breath before Sands got his second with a brilliant finish past Brian Tracey to sensationally level the game.

However, when asked the questions, Carlow came up with the answers. The excellent Jon Nolan finished the game with five points, while his brother Chris scored three from play in the second half.

The latter was also involved in the crucial third Carlow goal. His shot was saved but Stephen Keith could only divert the ball towards Jake Doyle and the substitute managed to steer the ball into the net with nine minutes to go.

From there, Carlow were able to see the game out and they could have got a fourth goal in injury-time only for a brilliant Keith save to keep out Conor Kehoe’s low shot.

All is not lost for Down, however, and they go into next weekend’s final round of games with a chance of reaching the semi-final against Laois.

They will hope Carlow can do them a favour when they play Kildare on Friday night but even if Kildare win, Down will know exactly what they need to beat Meath by in their clash on Saturday if they are to reach the semi and keep alive hopes of joining Carlow in Division 1B in 2025.

Scorers

Carlow M Kavanagh 1-8 (1-0pen, 0-7f); J Nolan 0-5; James Doyle 1-1; Jake Doyle 1-0; C Nolan 0-3; J McCullagh, JM Nolan & F Fitzpatrick 0-1 each

Down D Sands 2-1; P Óg McCrickard 0-5 (0-4f); T Prenter 0-4; P Sheehan (3f) & L Savage 0-3 each; D Hughes & P Savage 0-1 each

LAOIS secured a home Division 2A semi-final after giving Leinster rivals Meath a 4-26 to 1-12 trimming at Pairc Tailteann.

The visitors’ full-forward line  of Aaron Dunphy, Jer Quinlan and Tomas Keyes helped themselves to a goal apiece in Navan.

Wing-forward Martin Phelan struck the last of four first-half goals, seemingly killing the contest 11 minutes before the break, and so it proved.

Padraig O’Hanrahan did grab a major for Meath as they improved after the break, but the gulf in class was all too apparent as Laois ran out handsome victors.

Fresh from an impressive draw with Down a fortnight ago, Kildare picked up their first win of the campaign in dispatching Kerry on a 1-21 to 1-14 scoreline.

Goalkeeper Paddy McKenna struck the three-pointer from a penalty at Hawkfield.

Kerry’s Maurice O’Connor did chip in with 1-7, but ultimately it was in vain, and Dan Goggin was sent off in the closing stages for the Kingdom.

While both sides remain in the running for a semi-final spot, wins over the top two in the table would be required, with Kildare hosting pacesetters Carlow on Friday night and Kerry travelling to Portlaoise to take on Laois on Sunday.