GALWAY'S superior pace and physical power were key factors in their victory at Dr Cullen Park.
The reigning Leinster champions led from start to finish and opened up an early 1-2 to 0-0 lead when Joe Canning crashed a 10th-minute penalty to the Carlow net after a foul in the large square on midfielder Tadhg Haran.
Carlow got off the mark in the 12th minute with a fine point from play by Shane Kavanagh, who impressed at centre-forward. Kavanagh brought John Meyler's side back into the game when he swooped onto a loose ball to beat Fergal Flannery in the Galway goal on 18 minutes as Anthony Cunningham's men led 1-4 to 1-2.
With Canning picking off pointed frees – the Portumna sharpshooter scored 1-7 in all, 1-6 from placed balls – Galway led 1-10 to 1-3 at half-time. A brace of Carlow points after the restart from Padraig Nolan and Marty Kavanagh reduced the deficit to five points and raised the hopes of the home support.
But Galway lifted their game and with Damien Hayes and Iarla Tannian coming off the bench they showed their class to take control of the game.
A defensive slip by Carlow on 51 minutes allowed Hayes finish to the net from a Canning hand-pass as Galway led 2-13 to 1-6.
Carlow never gave in, although they finished the game with 14 men when their right half-forward Sean Murphy – who was playing well – was issued with a second yellow card by Kilkenny referee Sean Cleere.
Scorers – Galway: J Canning 1-7 (6f, 1-0 pen), D Hayes 1-0, N Healy 0-3, J Grealish 0-2 (1f), E Ward, P Gordon, S Maloney 0-1 each. Carlow: S Kavanagh 1-2, M Kavanagh 0-5 (3f), P Nolan, A Gaule 0-1 each.
Galway – F Flannery; J Coen, K Hynes, N Donoghue; D Collins, F Moore, A Harte; A Smith, T Haran; E Ward, J Grealish, P Gordon; N Healy, J Canning, A Callinan. Subs: D Hayes for Ward (29), D Glennon for Callinan (h-t), I Tannion for Harte (45), S Maloney for Haran (60), P Breheny for Healy (65).
Carlow – N Roberts; H P O'Byrne, E Nolan, A Corcoran; J O'Hara, R Coady, E Coady; D English, J Kavanagh; S Murphy, S Kavanagh, M Kavanagh; P Nolan, J M Nolan, P Coady. Subs: A Gaule for Corcoran (30); D Roberts for J M Nolan (60); Derek Byrne for P Nolan (60); Dermot Byrne for P Coady (65).
Ref – S Cleere (Kilkenny).