The hosts opened up four-point leads early in both halves, and edged ahead in extra time, but on every occasion Kerry dug deep to claw themselves back into contention. Shane Brick’s point a minute from the end of extra time was the score that earned Mossie Carroll’s side a deserved second bit of the cherry.
“I’m absolutely delighted,” said Carroll. “We are here in the home of the All-Ireland champions on a dreadful day; we gave them 1-1 of a start and came back through pure heart and determination to draw level after 70 minutes. We had to go out for another 20 and we stepped up to the mark again to get an impressive draw.
“Our hurling is a lot better than we showed today. This was a pure exercise in guts, heart and determination.”
Carlow boss Kevin Ryan was nowhere near as upbeat about his side’s efforts.
“We were disappointed not to win it in normal time but in extra time nobody deserved to lose it. We created a lot of chances in the first half but shot simple wides and the work rate wasn’t as it should have been in the half-forward line.
“You talk about plans and patterns and everything else in hurling but when you get into an extra time situation it’s just a bit of guts and a bit of character – and we know we have that.”
Carlow had the perfect start with a goal from Paudie Kehoe after Kerry goalkeeper John Healy denied Craig Doyle. Brick hit back with a clinical penalty finish, after the hugely influential John McCarthy had been hauled down by Des Shaw, to give the visitors a 1-5 to 1-4 interval lead.
Carlow moved up a gear after the resumption and held a three-point lead with time running out. Their forward line was not functioning with its normal fluidity however and they had good reason to be thankful for Kehoe’s accuracy from frees, full-back Shane Kavanagh’s two converted 65s and midfielder James Hickey’s eye for a score.
Aidan Healy and Tom Murnane were magnificent in the Kerry defence though, keeping their side in the mix.
It looked like their brilliant efforts would be in vain but when Brick’s driven 30m free was blocked on the line in the dying seconds of normal time, John Mike Dooley swooping to knock the rebound to the net to make it 1-13 to 2-10.
Extra time proved a dogfight in atrocious weather that caused numerous handling errors but a endless supply of courage was in evidence from both teams. Hickey shot his fourth point from play to put Carlow ahead but former Tipperary attacker Evan Sweeney levelled once again. Substitute Robbie Foley restored the home side’s advantage in the 83rd minute but Brick profited from strong work by Gary O’Brien to bring the tie to a replay with less than two minutes remaining.
CARLOW: F Foley; W Hickey, S Kavanagh 0-2(65s), D Shaw; E Coady, J Rodgers, R Coady; J Hickey 0-4(1 sideline), D Roberts; A Gaule, C Doyle, M Brennan 0-1; R Dunbar, C Hughes, Paudie Kehoe 1-6(0-6fs).
Subs: R Foley 0-2 for Dunbar (ht); D Byrne for Gaule, blood (44-46); E Byrne for Hughes (62); Byrne for Gaule (62); Paul Kehoe for Shaw blood (79-80); Dunbar for Roberts (84)
KERRY: J Healy; P O’Grady, A Healy, C Harris; J Casey, T Murnane, J Godley; E Sheehy, J Griffin; E Sweeney 0-2, S Brick 1-5(1-0 pen, 0-3fs), B Brick 0-1; S Young, J McCarthy, JM Dooley 1-3.
Sub: G O’Brien 0-1 for Young (55); M Hannifin for Harris (85) inj; J Fitzgerald for Sheehy (85)
Referee: T Carroll (Offaly).