Kilkenny 2-14 Carlow 2-12
Carlow Under-21 hurlers put in a storming second half display, outscoring hot favourites Kilkenny 2-4 to 0-5 in a rousing Bord Gais Leinster semi-final at Netwatch Dr Cullen Park last evening, in a game where the Cats were hugely relieved to hear the sound of Justin Heffernan’s final whistle.
Carlow substitute Jack Kavanagh’s goal in the 63rd minute came just too late as the final whistle blew from the puck-out, leaving the home county to reflect on what could have been a famous win for Johnny Nevin’s men.
Kilkenny right half back Jason Cleere had the visitors in front in the first minute with a fine long-range point from play as the Noresiders took early control against nervous-looking opponents. Two well crafted Kilkenny goals from full forward Ciarán Ryan and right full forward Liam Hickey in the 5th and 13th minutes provided the visitors with a comfortable cushion as they went on to establish a 2-9 to 0-8 interval lead. Carlow had missed a number of scorable frees in that opening half in which the greater pace and craft of Kilkenny caused them ongoing problems.
The game appeared to be going along expected lines at that stage but Carlow showed wonderful spirit and no little skill as they staged a superb second half rally, backed by the big home support in the attendance of approximately 2,000.
Carlow when full forward Peter Shaw shot 1-1 in the space of two minutes early in the second half to spark the home rally. With Diarmuid Byrne dominant at midfield the pressure built on Kilkenny, now lacking their earlier composure. But three Carlow wides when they were on top slowed their momentum as the Noresiders held on for victory despite Kavanagh’s late late goal.
Kilkenny: D Brennan; C Delaney, C Wallace, E Cody; J Cleere (0-1), E Morrissey, B Troy; P Deegan (0-1), M Mansfield (0-1); C Martin (0-5, 0-4 frees), W Brennan, J Maher (0-1); L Hickey (1-1), C Ryan (1-2), L Blanchfield (0-2).
Subs: K Blanchfield for Deegan (37); L Scanlon for Brennan (49); T Phelan for Scanlon (injured) (54); S Morrissey for Ryan (60).
Carlow: J Barron; S Whelan, G Coady, M Malone; J Murphy, D Wall, M Grady; D Byrne, C Fenlon; M Kavanagh (0-2, 0-1 free), K McDonald (0-4, 0-3 frees), T Joyce (0-2); J Doyle; P Shaw (1-1), C Nolan (0-3).
Subs: J Kavanagh (1-0) for Fenlon (h/t); E O'Hara for Doyle (injured) (40); J Doyle for McDonald (62).
Referee: J Heffernan (Wexford).