Kerry produced a storming second-half comeback to beat Carlow by 3-16 to 3-13 in the Allianz Hurling League Division 2A final at Semple Stadium.
The Kingdom trailed by 0-09 to 3-06 at half-time but three second-half goals secured the silverware for Eamonn Kelly’s charges.
Kerry now have the chance to secure Division 1B hurling when they take on Offaly next Sunday.
Colm Harty, John Egan and Shane Nolan scored the crucial second-half goals as Kerry claimed a famous win in Thurles.
For long spells, it seemed Carlow, bolstered by a host of Mount Leinster Rangers players, would do enough to get the job done.
A clinical brace of goals from Marty Kavanagh, and another from Denis Murphy, helped to open up that comfortable half-time lead.
But Carlow were prepared for a Kerry storm, having played with the breeze in the opening half.
The Kingdom turned the screw with a power-packed second-half display.
Fittingly, captain Egan scored one of the goals to mark his return from a broken arm.
Mikey Boyle’s contribution should not be overlooked either, despite failing to score.
The Ballyduff man put in a huge shift, having had to change travel plans to New York once it was confirmed that the game would be played today, and not yesterday as originally scheduled.
Harty sparked the fightback with a goal in the opening minute of the second half and after the sides were level on no fewer than four occasions during a tit-for-tat spell, Egan struck for a crucial goal 12 minutes from time.
Nolan buried a 62nd minute penalty to hand Kerry a 3-16 to 3-11 lead, and while that was the Kingdom’s last score of the game, it was enough.
Denis Murphy tagged on two frees for Carlow to cut the gap back to just three points.
The Mount Leinster Rangers star had the chance to restore parity in the final minute, but Kerry held firm on the goalline to clear the danger.
It was a cruel end to an afternoon that had started so well for Carlow, as the Barrowsiders dictated the pace of the opening half in front of 1021 spectators.
Kavanagh netted in the fourth minute for the opening goal of the game but Kerry were level at 0-04 to 1-01 by the eleventh minute.
In the 15th minute, Carlow struck for a second goal when Denis Murphy latched onto Sean Murphy’s ball to touch the sliotar home brilliantly past Tadhg Flynn.
They added a third four minutes later when Kavanagh lashed a low drive into Flynn’s left-hand corner.
That hat-trick of first half goals handed the Barrowsiders the initiative at the break but Kerry came storming back.
Carlow: B Treacy; G Kelly, P Doyle, A Corcoran (0-01); H.P. O’Byrne, R Coady D English (0-01f); J Kavanagh, D Byrne (0-02); S Murphy (0-01), M Brennan, S Kavanagh; M Kavanagh (2-01), E Byrne, D Murphy (1-05, 0-04f).
Subs: J Doyle (0-01) for Brennan (48), R Smithers (0-01) for Shane Kavanagh (53).
Kerry: T Flynn; B Murphy, T Murnane, K Carmody; S Weir, D Dineen (0-01 sl), D O’Connell (0-01); J Griffin, J Egan (1-01); M Boyle, D Collins (0-01), C Harty (1-02); D Butler (0-02), P Boyle (0-02), S Nolan (1-06, 1-00 pen, 0-04f).
Subs: T Casey for Carmody (26), B Brosnan for Griffin (54), B O’Leary for P Boyle (67), A Boyle for M Boyle (70).
Referee: F Horgan (Tipperary).