CARLOW CAME away from Ashbourne on Sunday with the first Leinster League point of the season but in truth they should have got more from this game.
With 10 minutes to go Carlow took an 18-15 lead but a couple of injuries and poor decisions allowed Ashbourne back into the game.
Up till then Carlow had matched the Meath team throughout the field, cutting down on the errors and number 10 Ritchie Whyte making good ground kicking from the hand.
Ashbourne struck first with a penalty after four minutes but within two more minutes Carlow were level through a long range Ritchie penalty score. The same player was narrowly wide with two further long range penalty efforts.
Midway through the half Ashbourne scored close to the posts to take a 10-3 lead. Within three minutes Carlow were level Martin O'Neill intercepted on half way and ran in under the posts for Whyte to add the points.
This was followed by Gordon Rowe picking up a loose ball and racing in 40 yards to score in the corner to give Carlow a 15-10 lead at half time.
With the aid of the wind Ashbourne came at Carlow in the second half. They levelled at 15 all seven minutes into the half with a forward's try. However Carlow continued to play well with Keating, Shirley, McGrath, Bulmer and captain Barry Waddock putting in strong tackles. They were rewarded with a Ritchie Whyte drop goal on 60 minutes to give them an 18-15 lead.
Injuries led to Carlow fielding new props Alan (Benson) Byrne and Brian Diskin but the youngsters held their own in the engine room until Byrne shipped an injury. A series of poor late scrums gave Ashbourne the initiative leading to a penalty and a try in the final minutes of the game.
Earlier the Carlow J2 team lost 37 - 15 to Ashbourne. Carlow scores came from Alan Nolan and Paul Cullen tries. Tom Bolger scored a penalty and conversion.
Also on Sunday the all conquering Carlow ladies side, the Coyotes, came away from Kilkenny with a 27-0 win. Scorers for Carlow were Jenny Ardill, Niav Cahill, Maureen Young and Nollaig Lyons with tries and Ailbhe O'Nolan scored a penalty and two conversions.
Carlow J1: Martin Dempsey, Osama Fareg, James Waddock, Martin O'Neill, Jeff McDermott, Richard Whyte, Mark Elmes, , Brian Diskin, Larry McGrath, Alan Byrne, Wes Shirley, Calum Southgate, Gordon Rowe, Barry Waddock (Capt), Joe Bulmer. Subs: Ed Keating, Brian Diskin, Barry Purcell, Barry Murphy, John Whyte, Evan Gordon.