Carlow succumb to Kerry
Sometimes when a team wants it more, they prevail, regardless of the very strong efforts of their opponents. In terms of the Division 2A hurling final on Sunday that was the case for Kerry and Carlow.
There was no doubting that Carlow wanted it, they played some superb hurling at times and some of the score taking was top drawer, but for the first time in a while Carlow came up against a team who just wanted it more.
The Kerry shooting was poor, over 13 wides didn't make for good reading, but they hounded, hunted and harried until the dying minute to eventually take the 2A title.
In the opening minutes the sides shadow boxed. Kerry, in an attempt to throw Carlow, named a team in the match program that was about as far from the actual team on the field as could be and it took approximately three minutes for Carlow to find their bearings.
In that third minute, Marty Kavanagh took possession almost 50m from goal and took off like a shot toward the target, there was no catching him and the St. Mullins man fired to the corner of the net in fantastic style to give Carlow an early lead.
Kerry hit back with two points of their own before Marty Kavanagh got on the end of a pattern of play that involved Richie Coady, Mark Brennan and Denis Murphy. The latter laid the ball off to Kavanagh who fired over from long range.
Again, Kerry hit two points in a row and the sides were level at 1-1 to 0-4. Carlow enjoyed a good spell of hurling as the first half progressed and a typical Sean Murphy point on the run, a David English free from his own 65m line and the most fabulous of goals from Denis Murphy saw them take a five point lead.
Murphy's goal was the kind of thing that will make Sky Sports happy they are going to show GAA matches this summer. Sean Murphy sent in a high lobbing dropping ball and just as the goalkeeper, defender and Murphy got to it on the edge of the square, Murphy stuck out an angled hurley to deflect the ball past the keeper and into the net, it was a superb piece of improvisation.
Kerry responded with a good score from David Butler but his delight was short lived as Marty Kavanagh came roaring at the Kerry defence again and once more struck a lighting goal to the corner of the Kerry net edging them seven points clear.
Three Kerry points in a row gave them some momentum as the half drew to a close and they reduced the gap to four points but even that was short lived as along came Carlow and knocked over three points of their own from two Denis Murphy frees and a nice point by Eddie Byrne.
Sean Murphy was denied when he got in on goal and Kerry had to rely on a free from Shane Nolan to give them some light before the break but the half ended 3-6 to 0-9.
Kerry went in at half time and got themselves fired up for a battle. In the other dressing room the right words were surely said but perhaps, on just this occasion, they weren't believed. In the first 15 minutes of the second half Kerry outscored Carlow 1-5 to a point with the goal coming in the first minute.
It was the ideal start that gave them momentum.
An Alan Corcoran point was all Carlow could show for their efforts and they made a change after 10 minutes bringing in James Doyle who sent over a point soon afterwards and that was Carlow's best moments of the second half with Eddie Byrne following up afterwards.
Kerry came roaring back though and although their shooting was poor and they hit a lot of wides, the more you shoot the more you are likely to score and the points came in a group of three.
Then the hammer blow that seemed to really scream that Kerry had the momentum. A goal by John Egan after a long ball brought a massive Kerry cheer and although Carlow sub, Ross Smithers, got a point in response, Kerry were awarded a penalty that Shane Nolan buried and the writing was on the wall.
Two Denis Murphy frees followed and the gap was down to three points and then Carlow were awarded a penalty but Denis Murphy was denied by a heroic save on the Kerry line and the Kingdom held out for victory and upon the final whistle you could see how much it meant to their players.
Carlow: Brian Treacy; Gary Kelly, Peter Doyle, Alan Corcoran(0-1); Hugh Paddy O'Byrne, Richard Coady, David English(0-1); Jack Kavanagh, Diarmuid Byrne; Sean Murphy(0-1), Mark Brennan, Shane Kavanagh; Marty Kavanagh(2-1), Eddie Byrne(0-2), Denis Murphy(1-5). Subs: James Doyle(0-1) for Mark Brennan, Ross Smithers(0-1) for S Kavanagh.
Kerry: Tadhg Flynn; Bryan Murphy, Tom Murnane, Keith Carmody; Sean Weir, Darren Dineen, Darragh O'Connell; John Griffin, John Egan; Michael Boyle, Daniel Collins, Colm Harty; David Butler, Padraig Boyle, Shane Nolan. Subs: Thomas Casey for Carmody, Brendan Brosnan for Griffin, Brendan O'Leary for P Boyle, Aidan Boyle for M Boyle. Referee: Fergal Horgan (Tipperary)