Carlow caused a shock when they overcame Tipperary in this first round Tailteann Cup tie on Sunday. While there might be a further distance to travel before this competition embeds itself, anyone who was in Netwatch Cullen Park will have no doubts what it meant to the victors.
Carlow have had a bruising league campaign and coupled with a five goal drubbing by Louth in Leinster, they needed something to hold on to. Their backs were to the wall for this one but they put any self-doubts behind them and were merited winners.
They got off to the worst possible start. Mikey Bambrick came forward from his full-back position but missed the target from only metres. The Tipperary response was immediate and when the ball ran loose in front of the Carlow goal, Martin Kehoe was on hand to fly-kick to the net.
Later on, the visitors almost scored a second goal but Mark Russell's shot came back off the woodwork. Carlow counter-attacked immediately and when the ball fell nicely for Niall Hickey, he calmly stroked the ball to the Tipperary net.
At the break, the visitors led 1-5 to 1-4.
A Sean O’Connell point on the restart stretched the Tipp lead out and it looked as if they were about to take over.
Carlow though found the strength to hit back and points from Ross Dunphy and Conor Doyle levelled the game. Colm Hulton and Conor Crowley pushed Carlow in front with a point each. Shane O’Connell came forward and scored a Tipperary point.
Carlow were not for turning. Hulton, Jamie Clarke and Sean Bambrick all raised white flags.
At one point the home side were four clear but Tipperary substitute, Liam McGrath scored two points from play. Clarke fired over another Carlow point and with the clock ticking into the sixth minute of injury time Conor Sweeney converted a free for Tipperary.
They had one last chance but Carlow defended the high ball, won possession and with that came a surprise but fully deserved victory.
Carlow: Ciaran Cunningham; Liam Roberts, Mikey Bambrick, Dara Curran; Shane Clarke, Sean Bambrick (0-01), Conor Doyle (0-01); Niall Hickey (1-00), Jamie Clarke (0-02); Josh Moore, Eoghan Ruth (0-02), Darragh O'Brien; Conor Crowley (0-01), Darragh Foley (0-01fs), Colm Hulton (0-02).
Subs: Ross Dunphy (0-02) for O’Brien (7), Shane Buggy for Doyle (47), Cormac Lomax for Moore (67), Jamie McCabe for S Bambrick (69)
Tipperary: Michael O’Reilly; Shane O’Connell (0-01), Jimmy Feehan, Willie Eviston, Kevin Fahey, Colm O’Shaughnessy, Sean O’Connell (0-01); Conall Kennedy, Mark Russell; Teddy Doyle, Jack Kennedy (0-01), Martin Kehoe (1-00); Mikey O’Shea, Conor Sweeney (0-03 1f), Sean O’Connor (0-02fs).
Subs: Stephen Quirke for O’Connor (h/t), Jason Lonergan for Russell (47), Liam McGrath (0-02) for Kehoe (47), Jack Harney for Sean O’Connell (55), Steven O’Brien for Doyle (61).
Referee: Cormac Reilly (Meath).