D J Carey’s home side looked to have completed a commendable second-half fightback by coming from 0-14 to 0-6 down after 34 minutes to lead through a splendid point from sub Tommy Nolan as IT Carlow led 0-18 to 0-17 with time almost up.
But there was one last kick in Mary I and the leveller from Limerick’s O’Donovan provided an equitable outcome to a high quality game played in wet and windy conditions. The visitors looked in control when leading 0-13 to 0-6 at the break and when Carlow hit a succession of early second half wides they appeared to have blown their chances.
But some wonderful free-taking from Stephen ‘Picky’ Maher of Laois, who finished with 0-9, allied to a monster pointed free from Laois senior goalie, Enda Rowland, inspired Carey’s men.
There was a post-match debate over a disputed first-half pointed free from Darragh O’Donovan for Mary I, which the home support felt drifted wide of the post. While IT Carlow may feel aggrieved they could have made certain of victory but for an ugly tally of nine second-half wides playing with the strong wind.
Two big-name county players were prominent, Mary I’s centre back Ronan Maher of Tipperary and Colin Dunford of Waterford, who had a storming second-half for the hosts.
S Maher 0-9, 0-7 frees, 0-1 65, C Dunford, C Dwyer, M Kavanagh 0-2 each, J Doyle, E Rowland (free), T Nolan 0-1 each.
A Gillane 0-6, 0-5 frees, D O’Donovan, C Lynch 0-3 each, C Galvin, T Monaghan 0-2 each, C Twomey, D Sweeney 0-1 each.
E Rowland (Laois); D Palmer (Laois) K Hannafin (Kerry), R Brown (Waterford); R Moran (Kilkenny), D Healy (Meath), D O’Hanlon (Tipperary); J Doyle (Carlow), C Dunford (Waterford); C Dwyer (Laois), M Russell (Tipperary), M Kavanagh (Carlow); J Fagan (Waterford), S Maher (Laois), C Bolger (Kilkenny).
T Nolan (Tipperary) for Russell (57).
C Barrett (Tipperary); D Sweeney (Tipperary), R English (Limerick), E Quirke (Clare); C Twomey (Cork), R Maher (Tipperary), A Flynn (Tipperary); C Galvin (Clare), S Cahill (Tipperary); A Gillane (Limerick), M O’Neill (Clare), D O’Donovan (Limerick); T Monaghan (Galway), C Lynch (0-3), T Grimes (Limerick).
T Gallagher (Tipperary) for Monaghan (46); L Meade (Cork) for Cahill (48); T O’Mahony (Cork) for Grimes (55).