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josie focuses

There was pride only at stake in this final Group five tie as the Wexford and Wicklow Leagues had already secured the two slots to the knockout stages.

However, both sides provided a most entertaining game with the emphasis being on attack from the first whistle. The difference between the teams in the end was that Carlow defended better than their hosts who looked vulnerable from set pieces.

This was due in no small measure to centre back Naoise Drewitt being sent for a very early shower (after 12 minutes) for a mistimed tackle. The dismissal was hotly contested by the Kildare players and management and it proved to be crucial loss to the heart of the defence.

Kildare started much the better and visiting keeper Steven Duncan was tested after three minutes when he did well to hold a stinging free from Corey Lamon. One minute later Aaron McDonald just failed to get a touch on a Ryan Burke cross into the Carlow box.

Kildare took a deserved lead after six minutes when keeper Duncan managed to punch away a Corey Lamon effort. The ball fell perfectly for Ian Byrne just inside the box and he shot low and hard to the net.

Then came the controversial dismissal of Drewitt and the tide began to turn in Carlow's favour. They drew level in the eighteenth minute when midfielder Philip Smithers was not picked up and he headed home a cross from the diminutive Robby Byrne.

Kildare were dangerous going forward and Devon Germaine and Ian Byrne had shots blocked on the line and on 30 minutes a corner by Byrne was punched clear but fell to Aaron Gaughan whose smart volley was superbly saved by Steven Duncan in the Carlow goals.

The visitors hit the front from a set piece three minutes later. They won a corner and an excellent delivery by Robby Byrne caused consternation in the Kildare box before being scrambled over the line by Smithers for his second of the game.

Kildare's had a great chance to level when keeper Duncan did well to palm away a Conor Coady shot and Devon Germaine, who was following up, shot over from ten yards.

The second half saw Kildare come close again when Aaron Gaughan found himself one on one with Duncan, who did well to push the ball away. It only went as far as Ian Byrne but Byrnes cross was poor with both Gaughan and McDonald free in the box.

Carlow gave themselves a two-goal cushion in the 59th minute when John Brennan sidefooted a superb low cross from Fernando Da Silva past Kildare keeper Sean Barry. The Kildare lads battled bravely to get back into the game and a great run and shot by Ian Byrne resulted in a save from keeper Duncan. .

The home side were right back in the game with fifteen minutes remaining when substitute Willie Hayes drove to the Carlow net from all of 35 yards -- definitely goal of the game-. Five minutes later Carlow were again two goals to the good and again it was Kildare's failure to defend a corner which was, swung in by Robby Byrne and side-footed to the net by Pauric McEvoy. The game was now over as a contest but Kildare battled on. Ian Byrne had a shot from close range tipped over and a succession of four corners failed to provide a reward. Carlow put the icing on the cake when Jeff Sutton added their fifth with time almost up.

Manager Josie Dunne said after the game that he was "disappointed with the result, but praised his young squad, only three of whom are not eligible for next season, for their battling qualities. "The early sending off Naoise (Drewitt) had a big influence on the outcome as we struggled at the back after that but the lads will have learned a lot from their three group games and we will be aiming to make the knockout stages next season" said Dunne.

Carlow: Steven Duncan, John Brennan, Robby Byrne, Pauric McEvoy, Patrick Hickey, Philip Smithers, Eric Molloy, Fernando Da Silva, Jeff Sutton, Joe Sunderland, Shane Clarke. Subs: Dean Kelly ( Hickey 65), Donal Kelly (for Da Silva 65).

Kildare: Sean Barry, Mick Walsh, Corey Lamon, Naoise Drewitt, James Lanigan, Aaron Gaughan, Aaron McDonald, Ryan Burke, Devon Germaine, Conor Coady, Ian Byrne. Subs: Willie Hayes (for Coady 64), Shane Molloy (for Walsh 64), Shane Hanly (for Lanigan 64), Chris Stynes (for McDonald 60)