Conor Lawlor hits injury-time goal as Carlow secure first victory over Kildare since 1953
Carlow 2-14 Kildare 1-10
Carlow wrote another chapter in Gaelic football's most unlikely fairy tale this afternoon after advancing to their first Leinster semi-final since 2011 with an impressive win over Kildare at Bord Na Móna O’Connor Park.
A goal from Conor Lawlor in injury time sealed a famous victory, Carlow's first against the Lilywhites in the championship since 1953, and Turlough O'Brien's men will now face Laois – who beat them in the Division Four final – on June 10 at Croke Park.
For Kildare, it is their 12th defeat in all competitions in-a-row, with their last win coming against Meath in the Leinster semi-final last June.
The foundation of their win over an opponent who played in Division One this spring was firmly set in the first half, with Kildare left to rue seven wides as well as a penalty miss from Éanna O'Connor - son of legendary Kerry manager Jack - on his championship debut.
On the other hand, Carlow – while employing a heavy defensive system – were very economical in attack. They led 1-8 to 1-3 at the break and didn't kick a single wide in the opening 35 minutes - or in the second half.
Five Paul Broderick frees were ostensibly the difference on the scoreboard as they paused for the interval, but they also had contributions from play from Broderick, Darragh Foley and Sean Gannon.
While Carlow were on top for the majority of the opening half, Kildare struck the first major blow.
Carlow ‘keeper Robbie Molloy fumbled a bouncing ball after a speculative effort from wing forward Fergal Conway, and full forward Daniel Flynn was quick to pounce, palming the ball to the net to put Kildare in front by a point.
We didn't have to wait long for another goal, with Cian O'Neill likely to be as disappointed with its concession as Turlough O'Brien was at the other end.
A free from Daniel St Ledger from beyond the 45 appeared to carry all the way into the net, although Darragh Foley protested that he had helped the ball on its way.
That put Carlow back into a one point lead but Kildare almost struck back moments later.
Corner forward Niall Kelly was fouled after being played in on goal by centre back Eoin Doyle, and it fell to O'Connor to convert the penalty in his first championship appearance.
However, it was Molloy who redeemed himself instead, diving to his left to smother the ball. The save galvanised Carlow, who subsequently outscored their opponents by 0-5 to 0-1 in the first half.
If the unlikely upset was to materialise, you felt that Carlow would need to nip any Kildare comeback in the bud and another subline score from play from Broderick saw them increase their lead on resumption.
You got the feeling it was to be Carlow's day after wing back Ciaran Moran landed a soaring effort from 40m that looked for sure to be dropping short – instead giving his team-mates another shot of confidence.
The sides traded points thereafter, two Broderick points for Carlow while two Kevin's - Flynn and Feely – helped reduce the gap somewhat, with the wing back kicking two points after raiding up the field, while the towering midfielder slotted a brace of placed balls.
Daniel Flynn notched a nice score from play before Feely nailed another free, which made it a three point game – the closest it had been since midway through the first half – with ten to play.
But as they had done all game, the Carlow defence tackled tigerishly as the forced a key turnover from Kelly in attack, before winning a free at the other end.
It was a free that would usually be straightforward for Broderick, but was an impressive score given the pressure on his shoulders.
Paul Cribbin responded with a fine score from the left wing – his third from play – but Broderick kicked another tricky free to keep Carlow's four-point buffer intact.
Kildare pressed for a goal but it came at the other end, with corner back Conor Lawlor latching onto a pass three minutes into injury time to cap a marvellous day for Carlow.
Their reward is a clash with Laois, and a place in a first Leinster final since 1944 on the cards.
Kildare – M Donnellan; P Kelly, D Hyland, M O'Grady, J Byrne, E Doyle, K Flynn; K Feely, P Cribbin; F Conway, K Cribben, P Brophy, É O'Connor, D Flynn, N Kelly
Subs: C Healy for É O'Connor (29 min), D Slattery for K Cribbin (53 min), T Moolick for P Brophy (60 min), E O'Callaghan for N Kelly (66 min)
Carlow - R Molloy ; C Crowley, S Redmond , C Lawlor , J Morrissey , D St Ledger , C Moran; S Murphy, E Ruth; S Gannon, D Foley, D Walshe; P Broderick, D O'Brien, J Murphy
Subs: D Moran for C Crowley (42 min), C Lawler for D Walshe (54 min), L Walker for D O'Brien (63 min), BJ Molloy for D Foley (75 min)
Ref – C Reilly (Meath)