Carlow fails first Christy cup clash

Carlow lost for the first time in this year's Christy Ring Cup as Westmeath scored a 4-11 to 2-15 win over the Barrowsiders to qualify for the August 5 final at Croke Park.

Carlow lost for the first time in this year's Christy Ring Cup as Westmeath scored a 4-11 to 2-15 win over the Barrowsiders to qualify for the August 5 final at Croke Park.

Three goals in first half injury-time proved crucial for Westmeath as the 2005 champions reached the Ring Cup decider for the second time in three years.

It was Carlow's first defeat in the competition since last year's final which saw them lose 5-13 to 1-07 to Antrim.

Showing plenty of hunger, Carlow nipped into a 0-04 to 0-03 lead during the early stages of today's Tullamore tie, with Brendan Lawlor cracking over three of those points.

But Eoin Garvey's men struck some poor wides in the opening half and Westmeath, with Andrew Mitchell on form, edged into a 0-09 to 0-07 lead before beginning their goal-scoring burst.

Brian Connaughton had also chipped in with two good points before three goals in as many minutes left Carlow completely stunned. Wing forward John Shaw grabbed the first two - batting the ball through the legs of Carlow goalkeeper Frank Foley for his first and then turning a Daniel Carty hand-pass to the net for his second.

Carty then sent a rasping shot to the net for Westmeath's third goal as Seamus Qualter's side turned around with a 3-09 to 0-07 buffer.

Having struck nine wides in the first period, Carlow noticeably improved their shooting on the resumption. A goal from Robbie Foley reduced the arrears but a fourth Westmeath major was enough to book a return to Croke Park for Qualter's industrious side.

It will be an all-Leinster Ring Cup final next month after Kildare took a 1-14 to 1-13 victory over Meath in this evening's second semi-final in Tullamore.

Despite hitting 14 wides, Ben Dorney's Lilywhites showed great strength and will to win in this titanic tussle. They had goalkeeper Conor Cunningham to thank at the finish as his superb late save from a goal-bound Mick Cole shot kept them in the ascendancy.

An early goal from Brendan Byrne saw Kildare take the lead but a series of Stephen Clynch and Nicky Horan points and a Ger O'Neill major got Group 2A winners Meath back on terms.

The sides were level on a number of occasions throughout the 70 minutes but Kildare, who accounted for Wicklow, Derry and London in the group stages, prevailed to reach the second-tier final for the first time.

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