Martin Kavanagh fired 11 points for Carlow, but he was unable to get them over the line for victory as Galway claimed the win in their Leinster SHC opener at Pearse Stadium.
Conor Cooney and Chris Nolan swapped goals at the start of the second half, but with Kavanagh in terrific form at one end, Galway needed Conor Whelan and Niall Burke efforts to claim the spoils in a poor display from Micheal Donoghue’s side.
Played on the splendid Pearse Stadium surface, Carlow showed they were worthy of their spot in the Leinster Championship as points from Séamus Murphy and Martin Kavanagh gave them a 0-2 to 0-0 lead after five minutes.
Without Joe Canning to call on the free-taking duties fell to Niall Burke, and although he missed his first attempt, he converted the next four frees before the interval, including a seventh-minute point after a foul on Brian Concannon.
Davy Glennon and Conor Whelan were lively in the full-forward line for Galway and they weighed in with a point each to put Galway ahead, but by the 11th minute Carlow had reclaimed the advantage when Martin Kavanagh added a point and a free.
After 15 minutes the teams were level at 0-5 each, but from there to the break Galway began to work their way through the gears. Concannon was causing a lot of trouble as he dropped deep from his wing-forward berth, while Cathal Mannion became a force around midfield, where he started alongside David Burke.
Conor Cooney finished the first half with three points from play, while Galway hit eight of the nine points between the 16th and 31st minutes to take control, although Carlow finished with a bang to only trail 0-14 to 0-8 at the interval.
A six-point lead was fitting for the home side, but Carlow caused some trouble for the Galway full-back line and were handed a couple of glimpses at goal, none of which were availed of before half-time.
It was a different story on the resumption though. Twenty seconds into the half Conor Cooney hit the net from a tight angle, and two minutes later Carlow struck back when Chris Nolan finished well after Martin Kavanagh’s pass found him in space. Kavanagh had also landed a free in between those two goals, which meant Carlow only trailed by five points.
Carlow kept in touch thanks to points from Jack Kavanagh and Seamus Murphy, while Martin Kavanagh fired his next three points from open play, to cut Galway’s lead to three points with 16 minutes remaining.
With Martin Kavanagh in terrific form, Galway needed a couple of Conor Whelan scores to keep them at arm’s length, and a couple of Niall Burke frees finished the job.
C Cooney 1-3, N Burke 0-6 (6f), C Whelan 0-4, C Mannion 0-3, J Flynn 0-3, B Concannon 0-1, D Burke 0-1, P Mannion 0-1, J Grealish 0-1, D Glennon 0-1
M Kavanagh 0-12 (7f), C Nolan 1-1, S Murphy 0-2, JM Nolan 0-1, J Doyle 0-1, J Kavanagh 0-1
C Callanan; J Grealish (0-1)(S Loftus 67), R Burke (P Killen 54), A Harte; P Mannion (0-1), G McInerney, K Hussey (J Hanbury 54); C Mannion (0-3), D Burke (0-1); N Burke (0-6, (6-f), J Flynn (0-3), B Concannon (0-1); C Whelan (0-4), C Cooney (1-3), D Glennon (0-1)(J Coen 50).
B Tracey; K McDonald, P Doyle, M Doyle; E Nolan, D English, R Coady; J Kavanagh (0-1)(R Smithers 66), S Whelan (D Byrne 50); J M Nolan (0-1)(T Joyce 63), M Kavanagh (0-11 (7f), E Byrne(J Nolan 67); J Doyle (0-1), S Murphy (0-2), C Nolan (1-2).
Colm Lyons (Cork).