Carlow 4-17 London 2-13
Carlow had to experience some worrying moments but in the end, their superior fitness saw them chisel out a deserved, if flattering victory over London at Dr Cullen Park.
The opening quarter was very scrappy, with London fighting for every loose ball. Shane Kavanagh opened the scoring with a 50m point in the third minute but the sides were level six minutes later, when Gerard Hennelly converted a free.
The hosts gradually began to impose themselves and four consecutive points put them on the front foot.
Sean Murphy scored two of those, with the second one of the scores of the game, the result of an Eddie Coady block and a deliberate diagonal delivery by Jack Kavanagh.
The midfielder hit the target between Murphy’s scores and Coady drove over from 70m.
Martin Duggan ended the spell briefly with a smart point but Jack Kavanagh and substitute Craig Doyle – from his first touch – stretched the margin to five.
Donal Reale slotted a tight angle but Carlow, who shot eight wides in the first half, opened a gap that was more reflective of their dominance when Murphy took a pass from Doyle and finished powerfully to the net.
Hennelly converted a free for the visitors though and after Frank Foley made a point-blank save from Reale’s well-struck shot, the St Gabriel’s man found the target from the resultant 65 to leave it 1-7 to 0-5 at half time.
The Exiles had a slight wind at their backs in the second half and though Marty Kavanagh extended their deficit to six points from a placed ball, two excellent points from Duggan was a sign of their growing belief.
Carlow needed to puncture the balloon and they did so, as the influential Doyle finished to the net from close range.
Points from Marty Kavanagh, Murphy and Doyle followed and it looked like a comfortable run home was in the offing.
That was to reckon without the determination of Eamonn Phelan’s crew though and goals from the excellent Duggan and substitute Luke Hands had the margin down to four points with 10 minutes still remaining.
Crucially, Carlow found the net within 60 seconds of Hands’ goal, with the pacy Doyle getting in behind the London cover and flicking beyond Foley.
Doyle made sure of it when bagging his third goal in the 70th minute, by which stage Jack Kavanagh had received his marching orders for a second yellow card.
Carlow: C Doyle 3-2; M Kavanagh 0-7(5fs, 1 pen); S Murphy 1-3; J Kavanagh 0-2; E Coady, S Kavanagh, R Coady 0-1
London: M Duggan 1-4; G Hennelly (3fs, 1 65), S Lambert (fs) 0-4 each; L Hands 1-0; D Reale 0-1
CARLOW: F Foley; A Corcoran, E Nolan, HP O’Byrne; D Byrne, D English, J O’Hara; R coady, J Kavanagh; S Murphy, S Kavanagh, E Coady; JM Nolan, M Kavanagh, P Coady. Subs: C Doyle for JM Nolan (22); D Galway for O’Hara (42); P Shaw for P Coady (55); A Gaule for E Coady (70+1)
LONDON: D Russell; B Healy, B Costelloe, D Healy; D Maher, B Regan, J Walsh; H Vaughan, PJ Rowe; M Duggan, J Egan, T Dunne; G Hennelly, S Lambert, D Reale. Subs: J Maher for Vaughan (24); S Frawley for Egan (49); L Hands for Hennelly (53); C McAlinden for Maher (56)
REFEREE: J Sexton (Cork)