Carlow fall to Tribesmen but important lessons are learned.
BORD NA MÓNA WALSH CUP
"CANNING STARTS", "Canning is in", "big Joe is down to play lads", take any of those statements and you had the entire pre-match talk that circled Dr. Cullen Park.
However, the next time Galway come to town they'll be saying "Eoin Nolan starts lads" and Joe Canning will shudder at the thoughts of being marked by the Naomh Eoin defensive master.
The records will show that Canning scored 1-5 but only one of those scores was from play and he won none of the frees or the penalty which he scored, himself.
Nolan was outstanding, a rock at full or centre back, got forward when he could and kept one of the best hurlers in the country to a single point from play.
Other Carlow Trojans included the ever present Edward Coady, the man with the golden strike, Shane Kavanagh and youngsters Sean Murphy and Marty Kavanagh.
Marty, the mouse, pucked over the score of the game in the second half, the young St. Mullins man took the onus on himself and when in possession took on four Galway defenders before firing over in great style. He was also his ever brilliant self at the placed balls.
Sean Murphy was relatively quiet in the first half but he played very well in the second half up until his dismissal late in the second half for a second yellow.
The whole country expected the result that followed Sunday's game and many were probably surprised at Carlow keeping Galway under double figures but Anthony Cunningham most certainly wasn't surprised by anything Carlow offered up and his selection of players was a true showing of respect to the home side.
Before throw in, there was a well observed minute silence for a man who had five nephews on the Carlow panel. Shem Murphy formerly of Ballymurphy and Borris and late of Ballylanders was laid to rest in Limerick and legend has it, the Limerick public have been well educated on the future of Carlow hurling.
Galway opened the scoring with a point from play through Joe Canning, he had missed a free just seconds before but this would be the only opportunity Canning would get from play all day.
Galway were dominant in the opening period and they forced a penalty in the tenth minute and in fairness to Canning, the man is an artist and his stinging shot could not be stopped.
At 1-2 to no score there was the slight feeling that this was going to be a bad day for Carlow but currently within the county there are a core bunch of young hurlers and footballers who have tasted Leinster Minor finals and they believe in themselves and this Carlow Senior hurling team were not throwing in the towel.
By the quarter way mark Carlow had opened their account and Shane Kavanagh had slotted over a point from play in fine style. The mouse got Carlow's second point and it definitely lifted the Carlow support.
They trailed 1-4 to 0-2 when the Carlow defence cleared down field, John Michael Nolan, Paul Coady the mouse and Padraig Nolan were all involved before Shane Kavanagh bossed his way inside the 20m line and set fire to a shot that beat Fergal Flannery all ends up.
Galway went on to score the next six points and they were six scores Carlow could have done without conceding. The mouse got Carlow's third point before the half time whistle was blown and there was optimism among the Carlow support.
Galway took a long time to come out for the second half, granted the long tunnel in Dr. Cullen may have taken them by surprise but for now, let's assume they feared the men in red yellow and green!
Carlow started the better of the two teams in the second half and grabbed the first two points with Padraig Nolan getting on the score sheet first. The Naomh Eoin man found himself in some space and walloped over a point early in the half.
Marty Kavanagh then scored the point of the game as mentioned earlier but Galway once again came forward as Leisnter champions and they hurled at a higher level.
They needed a bit of luck though and they got it for their second goal, Damien Hayes found himself on the end of a rare defensive error by Edward Coady and although Hayes didn't strike the ball sweetly it bobbled up over Nicky Roberts and there was nothing the stopper could do.
Carlow's final highlight was Andrew 'Duke' Gaule's massive point late on in the game while Shane and Marty Kavanagh kept the scoreboard ticking over. It wasn't to be for Carlow, but great lessons are now learned from a great test.
Nicky Roberts, Alan Corcoran, Eoin Nolan, Hugh Paddy O'Byrne, James O'Hara, Richard Coady, Edward Coady, David English, Jack Kavanagh, Sean Murphy, Shane Kavanagh(1-2), Marty Kavanagh(0-5), Padraig Nolan(0-1), John Michael Nolan, Paul Coady. SUBS: Andrew Gaule(0-1 for Corcoran, Dermot Byrne for JM Nolan, Darryl Roberts for P.Coady, Derek Byrne for P.Nolan, Killian McCabe for E.Coady.
Fergal Flannery, Johnny Cohen, Kevin Hynes, Niall Donoghue, David Collins, Fergal Moore, Aidan Harte, Andy Smith, Tadgh Haran, Emmet Ward, Jason Grealish, Paul Gordon(0-2), Niall Healy(0-3), Joe Canning(15), Angus Callinan. SUBS: Damien Hayes(1-1), Iarla Tannion, Davy Glennon, Shane Maloney, Padraig Brehony. VENUE: Dr Cullen Park REFEREE: Sean Cleere (Kilkenny)