Kerry: 2-22, Carlow: 1-23
A thriller in Tralee between Kerry and Carlow saw the home side come out on top to book their place in the Joe McDonagh Cup final. In a game which ebbed and flowed, with both sides having dominant spells, it was the Kingdom who finished strongly to claim a two-point win against a fancied Carlow side. It was a tremendous victory for Kerry, who will more than likely face Antrim in the final on December 13th in Croke Park.
The match was very evenly contested early on, with both sides registering early scores. Kerry went ahead by 0-4 to 0-2, with a couple of points from Shane Conway. However, Carlow soon showed their own threat up front, when Jon Nolan finished off a good move to fire home a goal. Carlow added a couple of scores through Marty Kavanagh and began to dominate, leading by 1-6 to 0-6 at the first half water break. However, the home side had a strong second quarter. A good team move saw Mikey Boyle set up Daniel Collins, and the Kerry centre forward blasted to the net.
The Kingdom followed this up with points from Boyle, Conway and the impressive Maurice O’Connor. Kavanagh’s accuracy from placed balls was crucial for Carlow as they stayed within touching distance, but it was the home side who got a crucial score just before half time. A shot on goal by Kerry’s Shane Nolan was initially saved by Carlow ‘keeper Brian Treacy, before Daniel Collins blasted the rebound to the net. This was a huge boost for Kerry and gave them a five-point lead at half time; 2-12 to 1-10.
The third quarter was very even, with Mikey Boyle and Mike O’Leary getting scores for Kerry, while Carlow stayed in touch, with scores from Chris Nolan and Kevin McDonald. Carlow then hit a purple patch, as their half back line of Ger Coady, David English and Richard Coady got well on top. They added some excellent scores from Kavanagh, Nolan and Diarmuid Byrne to edge ahead of Kerry late in the game.
The Kingdom wouldn’t be denied however and finished strongly, with the likes of Shane Nolan, Conway and Mike O’Leary coming to the fore. Conway showed nerves of steel to land a free, before points from Nolan and O’Leary gave Kerry the lead in injury time. Kerry had shown ferocious hunger to overcome the deficit and hang on to their lead, which they did successfully. Fintan O’Connor’s side were deserving winners and now have a Joe McDonagh Cup final to look forward to, after a great victory over a strong Carlow side. Overall, it was a tremendous day for Kerry hurling.
Kerry: Martin Stackpoole, John Buckley, Tomás O’Connor, Eric Leen, Michael Lehane (0-2), Jason Diggins, Fionan Mackessy, Paudie O’Connor, Shane Nolan (0-1), Brandon Barrett (0-1), Daniel Collins (2-1), Mike O’Leary (0-3), Shane Conway (0-8, 0-3 frees, 0-1 ’45), Mikey Boyle (0-4), Maurice O’Connor (0-2). Subs: John B O’Halloran for Stackpoole (14), Padraig Boyle for Barrett (48), Colm Harty for M O’Connor (60), Sean Weir for Buckley (63), Brendan O’Leary for P O’Connor (74).
Carlow: Brian Tracey, Michael Doyle, Paul Doyle, Gary Bennett, Ger Coady, David English, Richard Coady, Jack Kavanagh (0-1), Aaron Amond, Diarmuid Byrne (0-1), Jon Nolan (1-1), Edward Byrne (0-1), Marty Kavanagh (0-11 frees), Kevin McDonald (0-2), Chris Nolan (0-5). Subs: James Doyle (0-1) for R Coady (52), Ted Joyce for Amond (58), Ross Smithers for J Kavanagh (65), Paul Coady for G Coady (70).
Ref: Cathal McAllister (Cork).