Kavanagh on fire as Carlow come good to sink Laois
Carlow 2-23 Laois 1-18
The Carlow hurlers won the Division 2 league title and inaugural Joe MacDonagh Cup in 2018 - and they ended the year in winning style, too, by continuing their recent dominance over neighbours Laois in this Walsh Cup clash at O'Moore Park.
Martin Kavanagh helped himself to 1-10 as Carlow pulled away in the second half after trailing by a point at the break. The win brings to an end a busy week for the Barrowsiders, who had lost to Dublin in their first outing on Tuesday.
Laois had beaten Offaly in the opening round last Sunday to give Kilkenny legend Eddie Brennan a dream start in his first senior inter-county managerial role - and they got off to a dream start here, when Stephen 'Picky' Maher hit the back of the Carlow net after less than a minute. Kavanagh soon found his stride for the visitors, however, and hit back with three points in six minutes.
Jack Kelly and Kavanagh traded points to have the sides level after eight minutes and PJ Scully got the first of his tally moments later to put Laois back into the lead.
Sub Ross Smithers responded for Carlow, but Maher hit back for Laois and the home side hit a purple patch to go five clear - Mark Kavanagh and Aaron Dunphy were prominent in this spell and Laois were 1-9 to 0-7 ahead by the 20-minute mark.
Carlow stayed in touch, though, and a mistake in defence allowed Martin Kavanagh in for their first goal in the 27th minute.
Scully replied with a point for Laois, but Ciarán Whelan pounced for Carlow's second goal in four minutes before the interval. Again, Scully responded with a free and then a long-distance effort from Maher and one from Dwane Palmer sent Laois in at the break leading by 1-13 to 2-9.
Carlow took over in the second half and with David English, Kavanagh, Jack Murphy all on target, they ran out eight-point winners in the end.
The result brings the curtain down on the 2018 efforts for both sides - but they'll be back in action again early in the New Year, as Laois host Dublin and Carlow are at home to Offaly in the final round of the Walsh Cup group stages.
The top team in the group will go forward to join Kilkenny, Wexford and Galway in the semi-finals.
SCORERS - Carlow: M Kavanagh 1-10 (5fs), C Whelan 1-1, R Smithers, S Whelan, J Murphy, D English (1f) 0-2 each , J Kavanagh, C Nolan, D Murphy and J Nolan 0-1 each. Laois: PJ Scully 0-6 (3f), S Maher 1-2, A Dunphy 0-4, M Kavanagh, P Purcell 0-2 each, J Kelly, D Palmer 0-1 each.
CARLOW - B Treacey; G Bennett, K McDonald, M Doyle; E Nolan, D English, R Coady; J Kavanagh, D Byrne; S Whelan, J Nolan, J Murphy; M Kavanagh, T Joyce, C Whelan. Subs: R Smithers for Byrne (inj), D Murphy for Joyce (54), C Nolan for Murphy (60).
LAOIS - E Fleming; D Hartnett, M Whelan, L Bergin; J Kelly, E Killeen, R Mullaney; C Stapleton, PJ Scully; A Dunphy, E Lyons, S Maher; M Kavanagh, W Dunphy, S Bergin. Subs: D Palmer for W Dunphy (inj), C Phelan for L Bergin (25), P Purcell for Stapleton (49), N Foyle for Kavanagh (48 ), P Keating for S Bergin (67).
Ref - S Guinan (Offaly)