Limerick 3-10 Carlow 1-13
Carlow had chances to pull off the biggest shock of the hurling season to date, but they squandered the opportunities and Limerick held out for a 3-10 to 1-13 victory at the Gaelic Grounds.
Carlow were first on the scoreboard when Shane Kavanagh had two points in rapid succession, one from a free.
It was all of six minutes before Seamus Hickey landed Limerick's first point. Sean Murphy made it 0-3 to 0-1 for the visitors and Limerick had to wait until the 12th minute for their second score, but this time it was a goal from a powerfully struck 21-yard free by Declan Hannon after Graeme Mulcahy was fouled on his way towards goal.
A pointed free by Kavanagh had it all-square by the quarter hour. But Limerick suffered a big blow after 20 minutes when their captain and experienced centre-back Donal O'Grady was injured. He is likely to be out of action with a collarbone injury for several weeks.
Kavanagh, with a free, and Edward Coady moved Carlow back into a two-point advantage and Kavanagh again left the home side three points in arrears.
But Limerick struck for a second goal with a magnificent bullet-like drive by Hannon following a defensive error.
That goal came after 25 minutes and two minutes later Limerick had a third goal and looked to be on their way when they led 3-1 to 0-7. Each side had a point from frees by Hannon and Kavanagh to leave it 3-2 to 0-8 at the interval.
Graeme Mulcahy and two more pointed efforts by Hannon left Limerick in a comfortable position at 3-5 to 0-8. Craig Doyle and Kavanagh narrowed the gap before Hannon had three points without reply for the home side.
But the game came to life in the final six minutes after Craig Doyle grabbed a Carlow goal and he added a point to leave three between them.
An exchange of points followed and Carlow had a great chance of a goal but Doyle, after racing clean through, was unable to lift the ball and the defence got back to clear.
Scorers - Limerick: D Hannon 2-6 (1-5f), S Tobin 1-0, S Hickey, G Mulcahy, A Breen, P O'Brien 0-1 each
Carlow: S Kavanagh 0-9 (0-6f), C Doyle 1-2, E Coady, S Murphy 0-1 each
LIMERICK: A Murphy; A Dempsey, R McCarthy, T Condon; C King, D O'Grady, G O'Mahony; P Browne, P O'Brien; D Hannon, S Hickey, D Breen; G Mulcahy, N Moran, S Tobin.
Subs used: W McNamara for O'Grady (20 mins, inj), K Downes for Moran (half-time), J Ryan for O'Mahony (49), A Breen for Tobin (52), S Dowling for Mulcahy (67).
CARLOW: N Roberts; HP O'Byrne, E Nolan, D Shaw; J O'Hara, R Coady, D Byrne; M Brennan, E Coady; S Murphy, S Kavanagh, J Kavanagh; P Nolan, JM Nolan, C Doyle.
Subs used: D Roberts for P Nolan (half-time), Diarmuid Byrne for Derek Byrne, P Coady for Kavanagh (both 45 mins), A Gaule for JM Nolan (51), A McDonnell for O'Hara (47).
Referee: Cathal McAllister (Cork)