THE DAY belonged to Kevin Ryan's men as they battled hard all over the field but Marty Kavanagh stole the day with a fine display at corner forward. Having helped his school team to victory in a Leinster hurling semi-final the day before, 'Mouse' was in fine form and the 17-year-old hurled a masterclass.
"Yeah it was great now, that's what we set out to do so we'll all be delighted" he replied when asked about the huge score his side put up," said the St Mullins straight talker.
One thing the Carlow men will have to take into consideration is that Down finished the game with 17 wides. Three of these were allotted in the opening three minutes as Down applied some early pressure and took the lead in the fourth minute through Donal Hughes.
Carlow took the lead however four minutes later with two lovely scores. Firstly midfield partners Coady and Kavanagh combined to setup Daryl Roberts and then Kavanagh and Paudie Kehoe joined forces to provide Andrew Gaule with possession for his first of two scores.
Toner stole in for a point for Down but then man of the match Marty Kavanagh got off the mark, firstly with a nice strike from play and soon after a free from 21m.
Daryl Roberts struck over a difficult score from the left with 20 minutes played but a cracking finish by Craig Doyle to the Down net made it 1-5 to 0-2 and Down had eight wides.
Down needed to come up with a response before half time, they were creating chances but their shooting was absolutely woeful. Five minutes after Carlow's goal Daniel Toner goaled for Down after finding himself in acres of space from a pass from Kevin Mcgarry but Andrew Gaule was on the money with a fine score on the run. Marty Kavanagh popped over two frees to keep up Carlow's lead and he gave Craig Doyle the pass for the final score of the half leaving it 1-9 to 1-2
Carlow would have to wait until the tenth minute of the second half to score again and before they did Paul Braniff pulled two back for the visitors. James Kane responded for Carlow while Marty Kavanagh added a free and it seemed Carlow were simply superior.
Braniff pucked two frees in the third quarter but at 1-11 to 1-6 the last thing Down needed was to concede a goal but that's exactly what they did. The jury is out on whether Shane Kavanagh's free went directly to the net from long range or whether James Kane got the vital touch, but while the crowd argued over the scorer Down regrouped and had one chance to bring the game back to life.
A 21m free was awarded to Down and Braniff had to go for goal, he struck it well but it was brilliantly stopped by a Carlow hurl and it was the killing of Down. Marty Kavanagh scored an exemplary point, dusting a defender and calmly pointing, and a massive free from Shane Kavanagh from his own 65m line rose a white flag.
Marty, James Kane, Paudie Kehoe and Craig Doyle finished out the scoring for the home side, but the game was long over as a contest. A great start to the league for Carlow before they travel to Kerry in two weeks time, a tougher test awaits the scallionaters.
Frank Foley; Alan Corcoran, Eoin Nolan, Des Shaw; John Corcoran, Shane Kavanagh(1-1free), John Rogers; Richard Coady, Jack Kavanagh; Andrew Gaule(0-2), James Kane(0-2), Paudie Kehoe(01); Marty Kavanagh(1-6, 4 frees), Craig Doyle(1-3), Daryl Roberts(0-2). SUBS: Ross Smithers for Gaule(45mins), Alan Mcdonald for M.kavanagh (65mins), Ed Coady for Rogers (57mins), Killian Mccabe for Roberts (65mins)
Damien Kearns; Michael Hughes, Chris Teague, Paul Smyth; Michael Cunningham, Connor Woods, Michael Ennis; Liam Morgan, Eoin Clarke; Donal Hughes(0-1), Kevin Mcgarry, Caolan Baillie; Daniel Toner(1-1), Paul Braniff (0-4, 3 frees), Andy Savage. SUBS: Aaron O'prey for Hughes (69mins), Paul Sheehan for Toner (60mins), Conor Mageean for D.hughes (55mins) Paul Keith for Liam Morgan (48mins), Ben Toner for Michael Cunningham (45mins) VENUE: Dr Cullen Park REFEREE: Sean Cleere (Kilkenny)