Disappointing Kerry downed by Carlow

National Hurling League Division 2A: Kerry 1-11 - Carlow 1-18

Kerry's Brandon Barrett Kerry in action against Diarmuid Byrne during their NHL Division 2A clash in Austin Stack Park on Sunday
Kerry's Brandon Barrett Kerry in action against Diarmuid Byrne during their NHL Division 2A clash in Austin Stack Park on Sunday

Timmy Sheehan at Austin Stack Park

Kerry's momentum was cut short decisively by a Carlow side seeking to get their campaign back on track on Sunday afternoon.

Having been beaten by Westmeath in their opening game Carlow needed desperately to take something home with them from Austin Stack Park against a Kerry side on a high following their famous win over Cork in the Munster league and their massive win over London in the opening round of this competition.

Carlow did so with what was in the end a pretty comfortable victory in a game which was delicately poised for long periods. Despite maintaining parity on the scoreboard, Kerry found it difficult to exert a grip on proceedings for any prolonged period of time.

The Kingdom's scoring return was pretty sporadic, which was largely due to the input individually and as a unit of Carlow's rearguard unit. Kerry really struggled to create sufficient clear cut scoring opportunities on a regular basis and generally it was an indifferent performance, one of fits and starts, and essentially not consistent enough to get them over the line even if they were still in a challenging position with ten minutes of normal time remaining.

However, Carlow's goal in the sixtieth minute at a time when Kerry were reduced to fourteen players really put daylight between the teams and, while Kerry continued to pursue the issue with some intent right up until the final whistle and created a few goal scoring opportunities, Carlow with strength in numbers were compact and controlled in defence and were always making it difficult for Kerry to negotiate the necessary time and space.

The seven-point winning margin might not be a true reflection of the difference between the sides, but overall there could really be no doubting Carlow's right to succeed, given that they hurled with a lot more purpose in the second half, especially going down the stretch in the final quarter.

Off the bench Carlow also got a better return and taken in the overall context Carlow deserved to succeed, even if Kerry might reflect and feel that the sending off was a significant factor in the outcome.

Level on two points apiece after eight minutes, Pádraig Boyle with two superb fetches and finishes pushed Kerry in front 0-4 0-3 at the end of the opening quarter. However, Carlow were level 0-5 each by the 22nd minute with the Kavanagh's Martin and Jack converting some fine scores for the visitors.

The relocation of Shane Conway to the inside line improved matters up front for Kerry and a second point from him added to by a superb long range effort from Daniel Collins meant that the encounter was still deadlocked on eight points apiece by the thirtieth minute.

Briefly Carlow with a point from Martin Kavanagh edged back in front, but a goal from Brandon Barrett who linked up coming from a deep position and finished to the net despite being fouled gave Kerry a tremendous boost at quite an opportune time and afforded them a two point 1-8 0-9 interval lead.

However, Carlow restarted with far greater urgency and were level by the fortieth minute. Nothing separating the sides either ten minutes later, with another magnificent effort from Pádraig Boyle bringing the sides level 1-11 0-14 with twenty minutes of normal time remaining.

The dismissal of James O Connor having been shown a straight red card at a time when Kerry were just one point adrift, signalled an upsurge in Carlow's level of performance and Chris Nolan's goal in the sixtieth minute, having been left completely unmarked in front of goal, opened up a six point gap 1-17 1-11 and thereafter Kerry, despite a few substitutions were always facing an uphill task in their efforts to salvage the situation.

Defending deep Carlow were well equal to Kerry's late surge and realistically it was extremely unlikely that Kerry were going to peg back the deficit at that particular juncture.

Carlow added the insurance point in added time and by that stage the end result was a foregone conclusion. Kerry would maybe have been slightly fancied going into the game and with a two point cushion at half-time they looked to be in a good position.

However, they scored just three points in the second half and that was never going to be sufficient. Indeed, in terms of their scoring returns overall, four of their starting forwards scored just a point from play between them.

Disappointing therefore overall given the team's good finish to the Munster Senior League and that comprehensive win over in London last weekend.

However, Carlow were always going to provide a formidable challenge and with Kerry having to play Westmeath away from home in early March the prospect of promotion has now become a much more difficult proposition altogether.

Kerry: Stephen Murphy, John Buckley, Bryan Murphy, Sean Weir, James O'Connor, Daniel Collins (0-1), Tom Murnane, Daithi Griffin, Brandon Barrett (1-0), Jordan Conway, Shane Nolan (0-4, 3f, 1 '65'), Shane Conway (0-2), Padraig Boyle (0-3), Daniel O Carroll (0-1), Colum Harty Subs: Jack Goulding for C Harty, Mikey Boyle for J Conway, Paudie O'Connor for B Barrett

Carlow: Brian Treacy, Dion Wall, Alan Corcoran, Michael Doyle, Eoin Nolan, David English, Richard Kelly, Jack Kavanagh (0-2), Diarmuid Byrne (0-1), Seamus Murphy, Martin Kavanagh (0-6, 1f), Edward Byrne, Denis Murphy (0-7, 6f), Conor Foley, Chris Nolan (1-1) Subs: Paul Cody for C Foley, John Michael Nolan for E Byrne, Kevin McDonald (0-1) for D Murphy, Richard Kelly for D Wall

Referee: Rory McGann (Clare)