By Cóilín Duffy
Allianz Hurling League Division 2A Final
Carlow 2-19 Westmeath 2-12
Carlow led throughout as they booked their place in Division 1B of the Allianz Hurling League in 2019, with 2A silverware today thanks to a seven-point win at O'Moore Park, Portlaoise.
Goals came in either half for Colm Bonnar's charges, with his side looking good throughout, as James Doyle's 19th-minute effort, and a Martin Kavanagh penalty strike providing a solid basis for this win.
Kavanagh finished with 1-9, in a game where Westmeath struggled to really get motoring.
Westmeath had the opening chance for a score, but Carlow were sharper early on and battled hard in both defence and attack, earning their scores well.
James Doyle claimed their first point after just a minute before brothers Eddie and Diarmuid Byrne combined for the latter to fire over Carlow's second score.
Allan Devine eventually got the men in maroon off the mark with a pointed free in the third minute.
This was cancelled out by a Kavanagh point, but only after a magnificent save by Paddy Carroll in the Westmeath goals.
Robbie Greville fired wide before Devine cut the gap to two points.
Kavanagh and Eoin Price traded scores to leave the score at 0-6 to 0-4, before Carlow dug in.
Carlow firing 1-3 unanswered including Doyle's goal, after good work by Eddie Byrne.
Price continued to work hard for Westmeath, and when Darragh Clinton founded the net on 31 minutes just five points separated the sides.
However, three unanswered scores handed Carlow a 1-14 to 1-6 interval lead.
Westmeath were eager on the restart, with Carlow keeper having to go full stretch to make a fine save inside 90 seconds of the second half, following a Lake County goal effort.
At the opposite end, Carlow kept the scoreboard ticking over with Kavanagh continuing to impress from placed balls.
The St. Mullins clubman brought his tally to eight points, as Carlow extended their lead to 10 points by the 38th minute.
Westmeath responded with Devine's third point before David English and Devine traded scores.
Both sides were guilty of a number of wides in a pretty barren 10 minutes on the score board, but crucially Kavanagh bagged a 51st-minute penalty goal.
Frustrations set in for Westmeath, losing Gary Greville on a second yellow card, and Tommy Doyle also seeing yellow.
Carlow also got involved in the same incident, with Kavanagh picking up a yellow card as the game entered the final quarter.
Westmeath mounted a challenge late on with Robbie Greville, Ciaran Doyle and Devin among those on target, before a Derek McNicholas penalty goal cut the gap to seven points.
However, Carlow held out with Eddie Byrne and Killian Doyle trading points late on.
After the game Carlow joint captains Richard Coady and Diarmuid Byrne accepted the Cup from Leinster GAA Chairman Jim Bolger.
CARLOW: Brian Tracey; Alan Corcoran, Paul Doyle, Michael Doyle; Eoin Nolan, David English (0-2, 2f), Richard Coady; Jack Kavanagh, Diarmuid Byrne (0-2); Seamus Murphy, Paul Coady, James Doyle (1-1); Martin Kavanagh (1-9, 0-8f, 1-0pen), Edward Byrne (0-3), Chris Nolan (0-2). Subs: Jack Murphy for Jack Kavanagh (60); Conor Foley for Paul Coady (61); Kevin McDonald for Chris Nolan (64); Denis Murphy for Seamus Murphy (69); Dion Wall for Eoin Nolan (71).
WESTMEATH: Paddy Carroll; Shane Power, Tommy Doyle, Gary Greville; Aaron Craig (0-3), Paul Greville, Derek McNicholas (1-0, 1-0pen); Eoin Price (0-3), Cormac Boyle; John Gilligan, Robbie Greville (0-1), Allan Devine (0-6, 6f); Niall O’Brien, Niall Mitchell, Darragh Clinton (1-0). Subs: Liam Varley for Aaron Craig (23); Killian Doyle (0-1, 1f) for John Gilligan (33); Shane Clavin for Cormac Boyle (44); Ciaran Doyle (0-1) for Niall O’Brien (56); Alan Cox for Allan Devine (67).
REFEREE: Johnny Ryan (Tipperary)