CARLOW WILL COMPETE in the 2019 Leinster Senior Hurling Championship after a five-point McDonagh Cup final victory over Westmeath at Croke Park.
While both sides will advance to the All-Ireland SHC preliminary quarter-final stage next weekend, Carlow claimed an additional prize as they will replace relegated Offaly in Leinster next season.
Denis Murphy top-scored for the Barrowsiders, hitting 10 points, all from dead balls, while goals either side of half-time from James Doyle and Chris Nolan set Carlow on their way after leading by -12 to 0-13 at the break.
This marked the fourth clash between teams this season, Westmeath having won a National League divisional match before losing the Division 2A final to Carlow, while the Barrowsiders also won the McDonagh Cup group match between the counties when Westmeath’s final place was already secured.
Carlow led by two points at the break, 1-12 to 0-13, with Doyle finding the net on the stroke of half-time. It was a huge score as Westmeath’s Aonghus Clarke had blasted a good goal chance over the Carlow bar only seconds earlier.
Both sides suffered from shooting woes at certain stages of the opening half, with Westmeath clocking up eight wides inside 15 minutes and that wayward tally was up to 10 by the 25th minute.
Carlow were far more economical to begin with, leading by 0-9 to 0-5 by the 20th minute following an impressive brace of scores from John Michael Nolan, which marked four points without reply.
Westmeath had drawn level by the 32nd minuter via a free from reliable dead-ball specialist Allan Devine, but their missed goal chance would prove to be costly as Clarke fired a point over with only Carlow keeper Brian Tracey to beat after being put through by Ciarán Doyle.
Carlow responded by raising a green flag at the end of the resulting play as their puckout made its way to Doyle, with his goal helping Carlow to a two-point half-time lead when they could easily have been trailing by three.
Nolan – who was impressive throughout – found the net from a Doyle lay-off less than a minute after the break and a quickfire point from wing-back Kevin McDonald put Carlow six points up, 2-13 to 0-13.
Both sides spurned further goal chances in the third quarter and while Devine’s free-taking and the trojan effort of midfielder Eoin Price kept Westmeath in touch, their comeback hopes were further hit with four minutes left in normal time when Derek McNicholas was sent off on a second booking with Ryan’s side trailing by six.
A late consolation goal from Niall O’Brien merely polished the scoreboard.
1) Brian Tracey (Naomh Eoin)
2) Alan Corcoran (Erins Own)
3) Paul Doyle (St Mullin’s)
4) Michael Doyle (Mount Leinster Rangers)
5) Kevin McDonald (Mount Leinster Rangers)
6) Richard Coady (joint-captain, Mount Leinster Rangers)
7) David English (Ballinkillen)
8) Jack Kavanagh (St Mullin’s)
9) Diarmuid Byrne (joint-captain, Mount Leinster Rangers)
10) John M Nolan (Naomh Eoin)
11) Paul Coady (Mount Leinster Rangers)
12) Edward Byrne (Mount Leinster Rangers)
13) James Doyle (St Mullin’s)
14) Denis Murphy (Mount Leinster Rangers)
15) Chris Nolan (Mount Leinster Rangers)
24) R Smithers (Naomh Eoin) for D Byrne 66
25) S Murphy (St Mullin’s) for E Byrne 67
23) R Kelly (Mount Leinster Rangers) for J Kavanagh 69
21) J Murphy (Mount Leinster Rangers) for P Coady 71
26) T Joyce (Mount Leinster Rangers) for C Nolan 72
1) Paddy Carroll (St Brigid’s)
2) Shane Power (Clonkill)
3) Tommy Doyle (captain, Lough Lene Gaels)
4) Liam Varley (Castletown Geoghegan)
5) Aonghus Clarke (Castletown Geoghegan)
6) Paul Greville (Raharney)
7) Derek McNicholas (Lough Lene Gaels)
8) Eoin Price (Clonkill)
9) John Gilligan (Fr Dalton’s)
10) Joey Boyle (Raharney)
11) Robbie Greville (Raharney)
12) Allan Devine (Castlepollard)
13) Niall O’Brien (Castletown Geoghegan)
14) Niall Mitchell (Clonkill)
15) Ciarán Doyle (Raharney)
19) D Clinton (Delvin) for C Doyle 40
17) S Clavin (Castletown Geoghegan) for L Varley 41
18) C Boyle (Raharney) for J Boyle 46
20) B Doyle (Lough Lene Gaels) for S Power 63
22) C Shaw (Brownstown) for N Mitchell 67
Referee: Cathal McAllister (Aghada/Cork).