Brendan O’Brien, O’Connor Park, Tullamore
Carlow’s footballers have record an upset for the ages with a stunning, and ultimately comprehsenive, Leinster quarter-final defeat of neighbours Kildare on Sunday afternoon.
These sides spent the spring at opposite ends of the pyramid, Carlow in Division Four and the Lilywhites in the top tier, but there was no such gulf between the pair at any stage of the proceedings in front of 5,111 in Tullamore.
This was Carlow's first championship win against Kildare since 1953 but it is the future that will concern the Barrowsiders now. Next up is a provincial semi-final against Laois, in Croke Park, on June 10.
The sides have already met twice this year in the bottom basement with Laois winning both times but it still represents a fantastic shot at making a first sen provincial decider since the Second World War.
Carlow’s minors managed just two points against their Kildare counterparts last week but their senior colleagues had that matched within as many minutes against a Kildare side that had lost its last eleven games across all competitions in the last year.
That good start was undone by the concession of a poor goal after seven minuets when a Fergal Conway point attempt dropped short, bounced off the chest of Carlow goalkeeper Robbie Molly and into the path of the onrushing Daniel Flynn who palmed to the net.
Carlow struck back with a three-point fluke of their own four minutes later, Dabniel St Ledger’s free skittering low through a tangle of bodies before bouncing into the net past a startled Mark Donnellan in the Kildare goals.
Darragh Foley may or may not have deflected the ball on its way but the result was the same.
Though playing with a mass of bodies behind the ball, Carlow were leaking too many goal chances and they coughed up a penalty when one of three amassing defenders dragged Niall Kelly to the floor as he swept into the box.
Eanna O’Connor’s penalty was low and towards a corner but it was soft enough to allow Molly get down to smother it. The Moorefield dead ball man who be replaced before the break having failed with three free attempts besides.
Paul Broderick was having no such issues. The Carlow free-taker made no mistake with a quartet of frees in the opening period and Carlow took the interval with a 1-8 to 1-3 lead against their more illustrious opponents.
The upset was one.
Kildare were better in the second-half but not by a great margin. The same five-point deficit separated the sides with ten minutes to play and it wasn’t until the 63rd minute that Kildare managed to register two points on the trot.
It didn’t matter. Kildare would finish with 14 men after defender Mick O’Grady added a black card to a yellow and the result was secured deep into injury-time when corner-back Conor Lawlor ended a swift counter-attack with a calm finish underneath the advancing keeper.
Scorers for Carlow: P Broderick (0-10, 8 frees); D St Ledger and C Lawlor (both 1-0); C Moran, S Gannon and D Foley (all 0-1).
Scorers for Kildare: D Flynn (1-1); P Cribbin (0-3); K Feely (0-3 frees); K Flynn (0-2); K Cribbin (0-1).
Carlow: R Molloy; C Crowley, S Redmond, C Lawlor; J Morrissey, D St Ledger, C Moran; S Murphy, E Ruth; S Gannon, P Broderick, D Walshe; D Foley, D O’Brien, J Murphy
Subs: D Moran for Crowley (49); C Lawler for Walshe (55); L Walker for O’Brien (64); BJ Molloy for Foley (76).
Kildare: M Donnellan; P Kelly, D Hyland, M O’Grady; J Byrne, E Doyle, K Flynn; K Feely, D Flynn; F Conway, K Cribbin, P Brophy; N Kelly, P Cribbin, E O’Connor.
Subs: C Healy for O’Connor (30); D Slattery for K Cribbin (53); T Moolick for Brophy (61); E Callaghan for Kelly (67).
Referee: C Reilly (Meath).