Carlow 2-18 Antrim 1-11

Carlow preserved their status as a Leinster SHC side after a fiery encounter where both they and Antrim finished with 13 men at Dr Cullen Park.

Antrim could not make the most of an extra man for a large chunk of the game and now drop to the Christy Ring tournament next year.

Antrim trailed by 0-08 to 1-03 at the break but were unable to make wind advantage count during the second half.

Carlow, who found themselves trailing by 1-02 to 0-01 after just 10 minutes despite playing with the wind, looked to be in serious trouble when free-taker Martin Kavanagh was sent off after 20 minutes.

They had drawn level at that stage after Antrim got a great boost in the early stages when they punished hesitant defending for Conor Johnston to find the net.

Carlow responded well to the dismissal of their full-forward by shooting points from Paul Coady and Sean Murphy but Ciaran Clarke’s second free of the half left Antrim just two points adrift at the interval.

But Antrim, with 14 wides to Carlow’s eight, were not able to make the breeze count in the second half.

The sides exchanged points three times in the opening 12 minutes of the second half but then Carlow pulled away with some great hurling despite being down a man.

Coady, John Michael Nolan and Eddie Byrne all struck points and then Sean Murphy set Coady up for a fine goal to make it 1-14 to 1-06 after 51 minutes.

Mark Brennan and Coady turned the screw with points shortly afterwards and Antrim’s woe continued when Ciaran Johnston was sent off.

Eddie Coady and Simon McCrory also saw red in separate incidents in the closing stages but aside from the dismissals, it was not a particularly dirty game.

Antrim rallied in the closing stages in a bid to save their status and while Conor Johnston continued to land frees, they never looked like getting the goals required to launch a decent comeback.

And in the closing stages Sean Murphy soloed through and blasted to the net to seal the win for Carlow and their place in the Leinster SHC next year.

Carlow: K Kehoe; S Kavanagh, J Rogers, A Corcoran; R Coady, D English, E Coady; D Byrne, J Kavanagh (0-02); Sean Murphy (1-01), E Byrne (0-02), JM Nolan (0-03); Seamus Murphy, M Kavanagh (0-02, 0-02f), P Coady (1-07, 0-05f).

Subs: M Brennan (0-01) for Seamus Murphy (34), G Coady for Nolan (64) 

Antrim: C O’Connell; O McFadden (0-01), J Dillon, R McCambridge; S McCrory, T McCann, C McKinley; Ciaran Johnston, N McAuley; P Shiels (0-01, 0-01 ’65), C Carson, D McKernan; C Clarke (0-03, 0-02f), C McCann (0-01), Conor Johnston (1-04, 0-03f).

Subs: M Donnelly for McAuley (35), M Bradley (0-01) for Shiels (35), E Campbell for McKernan (51), C Ross for McCambridge (64)

Referee: C McAllister (Cork).