By Stephen Barry, Tralee
Kerry’s winning run continued on their historic first outing in the Leinster Hurling Championship, taking advantage of Carlow’s wastefulness to win by eight points.
The Kingdom led by two at half-time, but that was mainly due to Carlow’s remarkable total of 13 wides.
Shane Nolan’s goal after 42 minutes effectively ended the contest and Kerry continued to improve until the final whistle, racking up 1-13 in the second-half.
The Kerry forwards were impressive in possession throughout, starting with 100% efficiency in front of goal in the opening 25 minutes to score 1-5 and hitting no wides in that time.
After Carlow’s Jack Kavanagh, who was taken off injured soon after, hit the first point, the Kingdom added the next four. John Egan, Nolan (free), captain Daniel Collins and Mikey Boyle all opened their accounts in the first eight minutes.
Kerry were playing a short-passing game into the wind but misplaced passes allowed Carlow to level, with Martin Kavanagh slotting frees either side of a Seamus Murphy point.
However Carlow were only level as long as it took Kerry to move the sliotar from one end to the other, with John Griffin and Colum Harty setting up Egan to crash in a 13th-minute goal past a flock of despairing Carlow defenders.
The flip side of Kerry’s efficiency was the paucity of ball they got into the forwards. The following period was dominated by Carlow, but they failed to translate that to the scoreboard. They hit three poor wides from chances to respond to Kerry’s major, before Kavanagh finally added another free after 20 minutes.
Points from Nolan, from a free, and Jack Goulding were cancelled out by Kavanagh (free) and John Michael Nolan, to leave it 1-6 to 0-7 at half-time. However Carlow should’ve had at least double that tally, with their 13 wides inevitably coming back to haunt them.
Kerry came out much sharper all over the field in the second-half, with Brendan O’Leary adding an extra aerial presence to the Kerry attack. In the 42nd minute, his supply to the inside forward line was caught by Nolan near to goal, who kicked the ball to the net at the second time of asking.
Nolan and Egan stretched Kerry’s lead to seven, with Martin Kavanagh doing his best from frees and open play to keep Carlow in touch.
However five points was the closest they would get as Kerry began to put on a show, scoring 10 points in the final 25 minutes.
Young attacker Jordan Conway hit two superb points down the left sideline, the second coming after a wonderfully-executed flick over his marker’s head. Nolan and Egan also embellished their final totals, with an eventual score of 2-19 leaving Kerry in good stead as they prepare to welcome Westmeath to Austin Stack Park next Saturday.
Scorers for Kerry: S Nolan (1-4, 3 frees); J Egan (1-3); J Griffin (0-3); J Goulding, M Boyle, J Conway (0-2 each); D Dineen (free), D Collins, M O’Leary (0-1 each).
Scorers for Carlow: M Kavanagh (0-8, 6 frees); R Kelly, JM Nolan (0-2 each); J Kavanagh, Sean Murphy, Seamus Murphy, J Doyle (free), HP O’Byrne (0-1 each).
KERRY: A McCabe; B Murphy, P Kelly, K Carmody; J Diggins,D Dineen, T Murnane; J Griffin, D Collins; C Harty, M O’Leary, S Nolan; J Goulding, M Boyle, J Egan.
Subs: B Brosnan for Murnane (blood, 16-19), B O’Leary for Harty (18, inj), J Conway for Nolan (46, inj), J O’Connor for B O’Leary, B Barrett for Goulding (68), D Fitzell for Murphy (69).
CARLOW: B Treacy; G Coady, M Ryan, A Corcoran; D Byrne, R Coady, J O’Hara; J Kavanagh, R Kelly; Sean Murphy, M Kavanagh, K McDonald; JM Nolan, J Doyle, Seamus Murphy
Subs: R Smithers for J Kavanagh (22, inj), HP O’Byrne for Seamus Murphy (50), C Lawlor for McDonald (69).
Referee: C Lyons (Cork).