After Carlow’s excellent showing in Galway last week it took Kilkenny only 18 seconds for them to bring them back down to earth in this Leinster SHC clash Netwatch Cullen Park, with the Cats running out 14-point winners.
Right from the throw in, the sliotar was swept forward and Colin Fennelly was on hand to drill a low shot to the Carlow net. The Cats came in waves and TJ Reid converted a 65 and picked off a point from play.
Eddie Byrne did well for a rattled home side when his flick picked out Marty Kavanagh and he pointed from play. The respite was only temporary as another quick-fire move set up Ger Aylward for Kilkenny’s second goal on seven minutes.
It could have been worse for Carlow as Kilkenny hit a huge number of wides in that period and by half-time had registered 13 in total.
The third goal came six minutes before the break when Reid converted a penalty. Carlow tried to keep their shape and James Doyle and Kavanagh were their only scorers as the visitors led 3-9 to 0-3 at the break.
Kilkenny couldn’t keep up that intensity in the second half and Carlow gradually gained some momentum. Seamus Murphy pointed from play and Chris Nolan converted a free while Kilkenny sub, John Donnelly, replied with a point.
In a four minute spell Carlow hit 1-3 with Kavanagh, Nolan and Brian Treacy landing a huge free while James Doyle sprinted through the Kilkenny cover and found the net.
The visitors replied in typical fashion and as they wore down the Carlow defence TJ Reid converted a number of frees while Aylward and Billy Ryan were on the mark.
The Barrowsiders still confidently passed the ball around the field and much of what they did well started from deep. Other teams, after conceding those three first half goals, would have conceded three more in the second half. That never looked likely to happen and at the
end Carlow had outscored their more illustrious opponents by 1-11 to 0-13 in the second half.
That has to be a positive for them while it will be a stick for Brian Coady to poke his side onto greater efforts against stronger opponents.
Carlow: Brian Treacy (0-1f); Kevin McDonald, Paul Doyle, Michael Doyle; Eoin Nolan, David English (0-1), Richard Coady; Jack Kavanagh (0-1), Sean Whelan; John Michael Nolan, Marty Kavanagh (0-5,4fs), Eddie Byrne; James Doyle (1-1), Seamus Murphy (0-2), Chris Nolan (0-3, 1f). Subs: Alan Corcoran for P. Doyle (h/t), Ted Joyce for Byrne (49 mins), Jack Murphy for Whelan (63 mins), Ross Smithers for J. Doyle (67 mins), Diarmuid Byrne for J. Kavanagh (69 mins).
Kilkenny: Darren Brennan; Paul Murphy, Huw Lawlor, Tommy Walsh; Conor Fogarty, Padraig Walsh, Paddy Deegan; Alan Murphy (0-2), Richie Leahy (0-1); Adrian Mullen (0-1), Walter Walsh (0-1), TJ Reid (1-12, 1-0 pen, 8fs); Bill Sheehan, Colin Fennelly (1-1), Ger Aylward (1-1). Subs: Liam Blanchfield for Fennelly (26 mins), John Donnelly (0-2) for Walsh (h/t), Billy Ryan (0-1) for Aylward (48 mins), Jason Cleere for Deegan (53 mins), Martin Keoghan for Leahy (61 mins).
Referee: Alan Kelly (Galway