A brilliant final quarter coupled with a superb long range point from left-half back, Paul Dolan, deep into injury time gave Kildare an exciting Leinster U20 first round championship win over Carlow at Netwatch Cullen Park this evening.
The determined Kildare visitors opened well with Liam Dempsey picking off three frees while Darragh Melville also pointed. In reply, Eoin Hosey landed a point from play for the home side with Fiach O'Toole and Jake Doyle also on the mark.
Carlow found the net on six minutes when the referee, Thomas Gleeson, played advantage which Fiach O’Toole was glad to avail of as he goaled from close range for a well-taken score.
The strike did not give Carlow momentum as Kildare dug in with Paul Dolan and Conan Boran both pointing form play. At one stage Carlow led by three points but they still struggled to turn the screw. Four wides in succession in the second quarter brought the opposition on to them with Dempsey converting two frees and Melville also pointing.
The second Dempsey point put Kildare a point in front just on the break but in the last attack of the half John Doyle rose high close to goal, off-loaded to Hosey who found the net for a second Carlow three-pointer. That put the Barrowsiders in front 2-07 to 0-11 at the interval.
Dempsey and Carlow’s Jake Doyle shared six points between them in the opening eight minutes of the second half. In the space of two minutes Jack McCullagh added a Carlow point and Conor Treacy’s first time pull yielded a third Carlow goal.
Kildare struck back almost immediately with Dempsey knocking over two frees and substitute, Conor Treacy, firing to the Carlow net to leave the game finely balanced at the water-break with the home side leading 3-11 to 1-16.
It was then the Lilywhites headed for home. Cathal McCabe cancelled out a Conor Kehoe for a Carlow point while Conan Boran and Jake Doyle also exchanged points in an ebb and flow encounter.
Two superb Muiris Curtin points put the visitors in the ascendancy and while it remained tight to the end there was a feeling Kildare had the edge. Two Jake Doyle points for Carlow kept them in the hunt but their forwards were getting nothing from the visiting defence.
Yet again points were traded as Dempsey and Doyle found the mark at each end. Then just as it looked as if Carlow had forced a draw Dolan picked up a ball from a melee of players.
Just inside his own half, he went for glory and while it must have seemed like an age for the ball to drop over the bar it was never going anywhere else.
Carlow did come back but Kildare and their defence were never going to lose this one and held out for a mighty win.
Carlow: Ciaran Abbey; Colm Beck, Niall Bolger, Eoghan Dowling; Paidi O’Shea, Fiachra Fitzpatrick, Darragh Nolan; Eoin Hosey (1-02), Jack McCullagh (0-01); Conor Kehoe (0-04, 2f), Niall Hickey John Doyle; Scott Tracey, Jake Doyle (0-08, 6f), Fiach O’Toole (1-01).
Subs: Conor Treacy (1-00) for Tracey (33), Kealan Guidera for Hosey (49), Michael Nolan for Dowling (56), Richie Whelan for O’Toole (57), Ger Kavanagh for O’Shea (temporary 63)
Kildare: Sean Burke; Peter O’Donoghue, John McKeown, Matthew Eustace; Rossa Stapleton, Cian Shanahan, Paul Dolan (0-02); Conan Boran (0-02), Kevin Kelliher; Muiris Curtin (0-02) Liam Dempsey (0-13, 13f), Jack Higgins (0-01); Daragh Melville (0-02), Ferran O’Sullivan, Cathal McCabe (0-01).
Subs: Conor Treacy (1-0) for Higgins (h/t), Harry Dunne for Kelliher (37), Ciaran Flanagan for Stapleton (53), Daniel Murray for Eustace (54), Alan Goss for McCabe (61).
Referee: Thomas Gleeson (Dublin)