Leahy goal the key as Carlow get off to a flier
IT Carlow 1-22 Mary I 0-22
Fourteen-man IT Carlow laid down a strong marker when taking the scalp of the defending champions in a thrilling, full-blooded opening-round tie which produced 45 scores at the Heywood Community School in Laois yesterday.
After the game was switched from the IT Carlow grounds, which was not deemed playable, to the Laois venue, the visitors took early command on the astro-turf playing surface and, showing deadly accuracy early on, stormed into an 0-6 to 0-1 lead by the ninth minute.
Centre-back Shane Taylor opened the scoring within 20 seconds of the throw-in with a point from play, while Mary Immaculate keeper Eoghan Cahill also landed two superb long-range pointed frees in those early minutes.
Carlow senior county player Marty Kavanagh got DJ Carey's side off the mark with a pointed free on nine minutes and the Carlow students gained a significant foothold in the game as the half progressed.
With Limerick senior players Cian Lynch and Aaron Gillane prominent - the latter through his free-taking - Mary Immaculate led 0-11 to 0-6 after 20 minutes. Then a fine Carlow move involving wing-back Michael Harney, Marty Kavanagh and Ritchie Leahy saw the Kilkenny senior panellist crash home the game's only goal.
By half-time, having played with the wind, the Mary Immaculate lead was down to a point - 0-14 to 1-10.
There was no let-up in the pace or commitment after the break.
The Carlow side lost right full-forward Mark Russell to a straight red card for a striking offence in the early minutes of the second-half. And while Mary Immaculate went three points clear with a brace of white flags from goalie Cahill and a superb effort from Cian Lynch, Carey's men refused to flinch.
With their defence holding firm for the remainder of the game - with James Doyle and Michael Harney outstanding - they benefitted from the magnificent long-range free-taking of keeper Enda Rowland of Laois, who landed three monster dead-ball efforts.
IT Carlow took the lead for the first time through Leahy (1-14 to 0-16) as the game entered the final quarter.
With the wind in their sails and at their backs IT Carlow went into a four-point lead on two occasions, the accuracy of Marty Kavanagh being vital from both frees and open play.
His ninth point of the game and his side's 22nd was a magnificent effort from play inside his own half and close to the sideline. The contribution of the winner's left half-forward Charlie Dwyer, the Laois senior county man, was also significant, as the No 12 hit six magnificent points from play.
This victory is a major boost for the Carlow side, who will be strongly fancied for a quarter-final Fitzgibbon slot, with games against NUIG and Trinity College to come.
Mary Immaculate will dust themselves down from this defeat and will, no doubt, also be a factor as the competition progresses.
Scorers - IT Carlow: M Kavanagh 0-9, (7f, 1 '65'), C Dwyer 0-6, R Leahy 1-1, E Rowland 0-3 (3f), C Dunford, S Downey, C Dunbar 0-1 each. Mary Immaculate: A Gillane 0-7, (6f, 1 65), C Lynch 0-5, E Cahill 0-3 (3f), L Meade 0-2, S Taylor, T Grimes, G Cooney, T O'Mahoney, B Corry 0-1 each.
IT Carlow: E Rowland; S Reck, K Hannafin, R Brown; M Redmond, J Doyle, M Harney; C Dunford, R Leahy; S Downey, M Kavanagh, C Dwyer; M Russell, J Fagan, C Dunbar.
Mary Immaculate: E Cahill; C McCullagh, D Prendergast, C Stapleton; D Browne, S Taylor, T Grimes; J Mackey, L Meade; A Gillane, C Lynch, P Ryan; G Cooney, T O'Mahony, B Corry. Subs: C Guilfoyle for Corry (45); N Heffernan for Ryan (51).8
Ref - J Keenan (Wicklow).