Carlow in flying form
CARLOW 1-17 ANTRIM 0-10 "A BOY SHAW BOY," was the familiar tone of Carlow full back Eoin Nolan that rang loud in Dr. Cullen Park as his Carlow teammate and Naomh Brid man Des Shaw got stuck into a tackle and clearance in the second half.
It was the kind of tackle that usually surfaces in mid-summer in the heat of the championship and that was arguably the most pleasing thing about Carlow's performance, they wanted to win, they've developed a taste for it and hopefully they've become addicts.
From minute one to 70 Carlow were the all round better team and while Antrim will claim they were missing a couple of certain starters as well as the uninvolved Loughgiel players, there was only going to be one winner.
All over the pitch Carlow were superior and but for Antrim keeper Ryan McGarry they would have been demolished.
Poor Marty Kavanagh must have wondered what he had to do to get a goal, first he gave the final pass for Paul Coady's goal and then twice he was denied by the superb Antrim keeper.
It was a good day for the 'Mouse' Kavanagh who top scored for the home team as well as assisting the goal, his namesake Shane must have been convinced he had a goal too when he fired for the top corner from inside the 13m line but McGarry was in great form and denied the Naomh Eoin man.
By the time Carlow did score the goal their lead was handsome and although it was the first score of the second half it only added to the 11 points Carlow had pucked in the opening 35 minutes.
Neill McManus got the scoring started in the third minute but Marty, with two; Padraig Nolan, Sean Murphy and John Michael Nolan all bombarded the Antrim goal with fine scores to lead 5-1 by the 10th minute.
Paddy Doherty made it 5-2 but exactly at the midway point of the first half Marty and David English knocked over two fine scores and Carlow's intensity, pace and desire was too much for Antrim to match.
Shane Kavanagh was deployed at centre forward for the afternoon and in the first half seemed to be involved in most of the things that Carlow did well, he wouldn't score though until the final puck of the half and by then Sean Murphy had already given Carlow their 10th point, but Kavanagh gave Carlow an 11-6 half time five point lead.
If Neil McManus opened the entire game in the third minute of the first half, Paul Coady did the same in the second. Marty found himself running towards goal and while he could have taken the shot on himself he flicked to Paul who had a nice simple finish to the back of an empty net.
John Michael Nolan was a colossus for Carlow all afternoon at full forward and his involvement was exemplary, he pucked his second point early in the second half and so did Padraig Nolan from an impossible angle, while Marty knocked over his fifth point of the afternoon.
Carlow looked to seal the victory with what would have been insurance goals but McGarry was in god like form and refused to be beaten from one on one shots. Marty had two goes at it, Shane Kavanagh fizzed one toward him and time and again the Antrim man showed wonderful agility to deny Carlow.
From that save though Marty slotted a 65 and Carlow lead 1-13 to 0-8.
John Meyler, in his first competitive game in charge of the scallionaters, gave Nickey Roberts a rest in goal as Brian Tracey went in, Cillian McCabe, Darryl Roberts and Andrew Guale also came into the fray to power Carlow to victory.
Antrim did show the occasional signs of a goal threat, but with Hugh Paddy O'Byrne, Eoin Nolan, and Des Shaw in very mean form and the half backline of James O'Hara, Richard Coady and the 2012 hurler of the year Ed Coady all growling at forwards from minute one to 70 the Antrim threat was minimal at best.
Marty would puck one more point from a 65 and John Michael Nolan had put one over from over his shoulder and Carlow ran out good looking, comfortable winners.