Anthony Rainbow’s Carlow have beaten Waterford by a point - 0-17 to 1-13 - in a thrilling All-Ireland senior football championship round 1B qualifier at Dr. Cullen Park.
The victory was the Leinster county's first win in the back door since 2005.
The hosts came from five points down to seal a sensational win – a victory that helps to erase the painful memories of a 28-point mauling at the hands of Meath in the Leinster championship.
Carlow were 0-06 to 1-08 behind early in the second half before staging a remarkable fightback. They did, however, lose Willie Minchin to a second yellow card deep in stoppage time and they also had Ciaran Moran black-carded in the second half.
But Moran’s replacement in the 65th minute was Jack Kennedy and the St Patrick’s clubman kicked the lead score approaching the finish.
And Daniel St Ledger banged over his fourth point from placed balls late on to put Carlow two points clear.
St Ledger’s third free was a monstrous wind-assisted effort and while Paul Whyte, scorer of eight points, reduced the deficit to the bare minimum deep in stoppage time, the Barrowsiders held on.
Carlow, 3-1 outsiders before throw-in may have finished the game with 14 men but Rainbow’s spirited outfit restored massive pride in the county following that Meath massacre.
In the battle between two Division 4 teams, Waterford looked to have the upper hand for long spells but once wind-assisted Carlow built up a head of steam, they proved impossible to stop.
But Carlow were five points down before St Ledger, Benny Kavanagh and Darragh Foley led the fightback.
At half-time, visitors Waterford led by 1-06 to 0-06 and a sucker-punch goal scored by Liam O’Lionain hurt Carlow, who made four changes in personnel before the start.
Rainbow’s men were unlucky to trail by three points at the break after Foley fisted an effort off the upright and later saw a fierce effort kept out by Stephen Enright in the Waterford goal.
Carlow also saw two frees strike Enright’s left-hand upright and when O’Lionain intercepted Richard Mahon’s stray handpass before slotting home a well-taken goal in the 35th minute, Waterford had the whip hand.
But spirited Carlow would finish with nine different players on the scoresheet against a Waterford side reliant on the scoring prowess of Whyte, O’Lionain and marauding centre back Shane Briggs.
Having lost out to Clare in the Munster championship, Waterford’s campaign is now over as their dismal All-Ireland qualifier run continues.
In their last 13 All-Ireland qualifiers, Waterford have recorded just one victory and after two years in charge, the spotlight will fall on manager Niall Carew and whether or not the former Kildare selector will remain in charge.
CARLOW: A O’Brien; R Mahon, C Lawlor, B.J. Molloy; K Nolan (0-01), D St Ledger (0-04, 3f, 1 45), B Kavanagh (0-02); E Ruth (0-01), H Gahan; M Meaney (0-01), C Moran, D Bambrick; D Foley (0-01), S Kinsella (0-03, 2f), C Coughlan (0-03, 1f).
Subs: W Minchin for Gahan (29), G Power for Mahon (43), J Kennedy (0-01) for Moran (b/c, 65), J Lowry for Kavanagh (68), M Ware for Foley (b/c 70+1).
WATERFORD: S Enright; D Crowley, T O’Gorman, M O’Gorman; W Hutchinson, S Briggs (0-02), O Keevers; S Ahearne, T Prendergast (0-01); D Grey, L O’Lionain (1-02), T O’Huallachain; B Wall, P Whyte (0-08, 5f), JJ Hutchinson.
Subs: M Curry for Grey (43), D Allen for Wall (45), C O’Keeffe for W Hutchinson (53), Michael O’Gorman for O’Huallachain (65), N Walsh for Crowley (67).
Referee: C Reilly (Meath) – replaced by P O’Sullivan (Kerry) at half-time.