Carlow depended to a great extent on the dead ball accuracy of Marty Kavanagh, who finished with 0-9 with seven from frees.
The visitors had edged 0-9 to 0-8 ahead in the 35th minute when a short puck-out by Carlow went horribly wrong and Brehony fired to the net from close range - and that strike separated the sides (1-9 to 0-9) at the break. Galway recorded the opening two points of the second half from Dean Higgins frees and while Kavanagh's brilliance kept Carlow in touch – it was 1-11 to 0-11 after 45 minutes – the odds always favoured Galway.
The game reached a pivotal point in the 50th minute when, with Galway 1-12 to 0-12 ahead, Carlow's Seamus Murphy was deemed to have been fouled in the large square. Marty Kavanagh took the penalty but one-on-one with Colm Callanan the St Mullins clubman sent his effort wide. Carlow trailed by four (1-16 to 0-15) entering the final minutes when Jonathan Glynn outwitted two defenders before drilling the ball to the net.
Scorers for Galway: D Higgins 0-6, 0-4 frees, P Brehony 1-2, J Glynn 1-1, J Cooney, J Flynn (frees) 0-2 each, J Regan, J Coen (free), B Molloy, G Kelly, E Burke 0-1 each.
Scorers for Carlow: M Kavanagh 0-9, 0-7 frees, 0-1 65, D Byrne, J M Nolan 0-2 each, C Wall, Seamus Murphy 0-1 each.
GALWAY: C Callanan; R Burke, F Moore, P Mannion; C Flynn, D Collins, G McInerney; J Cooney (0-2), J Coen (0-1, free); D Higgins (0-6, 0-4 frees), A Smith, P Brehony (1-2); J Regan (0-1), J Glynn (1-1), B Molloy (0-1).
Subs: J Flynn (0-2 frees) for C Flynn (53); E Burke (0-1) for Molloy (56); P Kileen for McInerney (61); G Kelly (0-1) for Cooney (67).
CARLOW: K Kehoe; A Corcoran, M Ryan, E Nolan; R Coady, J Rogers, G Coady; C Wall (0-1), D Byrne (0-2); H P O'Byrne, J M Nolan (0-2), Seamus Murphy (0-1); M Kavanagh (0-9, 0-7 frees, 0-1 65), D O'Neill, E Doyle.
Subs: P Coady for E Nolan (injured) (23); Séan Murphy for O'Neill (40); M Brennan for Doyle (65).
Referee: G Quilty (Kilkenny).