Carlow 2-18 Antrim 1-11
Carlow carved out a deserved success in this controversial Leinster SHC round robin clash which saw both sides end with 13 men.
It wasn’t a particularly dirty encounter but Cork referee Cathal McAllister had little choice in dishing out four straight red cards.
Antrim ended up playing over half the game with an extra man, but could not make it count and now drop to the Christy Ring Cup for 2016.
Carlow free-taker Martin Kavanagh received a straight red for a swing on Antrim corner-back Odhran McFadden after 21 minutes, but the Ulster side were also reduced to 14 when Ciaran Johnston got his marching orders for an incident with Mark Brennan after 55 minutes.
The Carlow wing-back Eddie Coady was sent off for a heavy challenge which left Antrim corner-back Ryan McCambridge being removed from the pitch by ambulance and taken to hospital in Kilkenny with suspected concussion.
Antrim only enjoyed the extra man for a few minutes as wing-back Simon McCrory was dismissed for an off the ball incident with Sean Murphy.
Carlow looked to be in serious trouble when Kavanagh got dismissed as the sides were level at 0-5 to 1-2 despite the home side playing with the breeze at Dr Cullen Park.
Antrim got a great boost after 10 minutes when Conor Johnston found the net after Carlow goalkeeper Kevin Kehoe did not an effort from Conor Carson which dropped short and Johnston was set up to find the net.
Kavanagh hit a couple of frees before he was sent off and Carlow responded to his dismissal with efforts from Paul Coady and Sean Murphy.
Ciaran Clarke landed a free for an Antrim side who did not score a point from play in the opening half but they only trailed by 0-8 to 1-3 at the break with wind advantage to come.
Sub Michael Bradley got them off the mark four minutes after the restart but Paul Coady responded for Carlow, and he did likewise when Conor Johnston found the range for the Ulster side.
John Michael Nolan then increased the home lead with a good point to lead by 0-11 to 1-5 after 45 minutes.
Antrim continued to shoot wides, but Johnston landed another free to reduce the margin to two points but then Carlow took over and after Paul Coady and John Michael Nolan pointed, Coady blasted to the net after a good passing movement, with quick points by Coady and Mark Brennan making it 1-16 to 1-6.
Antrim rallied in the closing minutes but never looked like catching a Carlow side who wrapped it all up with a goal from Sean Murphy in the dying seconds.
Carlow: P Coady 1-7 (0-5f), Sean Murphy 1-1, JM Nolan 0-3, J Kavanagh 0-2, M Kavanagh 0-2 (2f), E Byrne 0-2, M Brennan 0-1.
Antrim: C Johnston 1-4 (0-3f), C Clarke 0-3 (2f), P Shiels 0-1 (65), M Bradley 0-1, C McCann 0-1, O McFadden 0-1.
Carlow: K Kehoe; S Kavanagh, J Rogers, A Corcoran; R Coady, D English, E Coady; D Byrne, J Kavanagh; Sean Murphy, E Byrne, JM Nolan (G Coady 64); Seamus Murphy (M Brennan 34), M Kavanagh, P Coady.
Antrim: C O’Connell; O McFadden, J Dillon, R McCambridge (C Ross 64); S McCrory, T McCann, C McKinley; Ciaran Johnston, N McAuley (M Donnelly 35); P Shiels (M Bradley 35), C Carson, D McKernan (E Campbell 51); C Clarke, C McCann, Conor Johnston.
Referee: C McAllister (Cork).