The Gerry Walsh-managed team ran in five tries to claim the honours against a spirited Athlone side after 80 minutes of supremely intense rugby. In the end, exceptionally powerful running from the Carlow backs proved to be the key difference between the teams, with Alan Kenny deserving much of the plaudits as he ran in a try in either half.
David Hegarty scored their opening try a quarter-of-an-hour into the contest with a move that saw Carlow recycle the ball incredibly quickly, before Kenny galloped into the corner after evading two Athlone tackles en route to opening up a completely warranted 15-3 lead at the break.
Two more tries in a five-minute spell after the break killed off the Athlone challenge. Firstly, Bryan Croke made a terrific interception before racing away towards the try-line, while Wesley Wojnar capped off a spell of sustained pressure in the Athlone 22 to give the Leinster side a comfortable 25-3 lead.
The Westmeath college did fashion a fightback of sorts, Paul Harte and Brendan Fagan both scrambling over the line to make it 25-17, but with 15 minutes left on the clock Kenny, in a very similar move to his opening try, got his hands on the ball wide on the left before waltzing through a feeble Athlone defensive line to put the result beyond any doubt.
Meanwhile in the curtain-raiser to the main event, host college Cork IT were crowned Division 2 champions after an entertaining 22-17 triumph over Carlow IT’s seconds.
After a tight first half ended up 3-3, the game sprung into life after the interval with Darragh O’Keeffe getting into his stride, kicking four sumptuous penalties for the hosts.
Barry McNamara touched down 15 minutes before the end to mark a terrific effort from the pack and despite Carlow replying in emphatic fashion with tries from Jared Owens and Conor Finan, the Cork side were always ahead and they closed out the game in a composed fashion.
In the Division 3 final, National College Ireland (NCI) had an 18-9 victory over Carlow’s third string, as Alan McGinty scored 13 of their points. The out-half was sublime in the first half, kicking two penalties while converting his own fabulous try in the seventh minute. Stephen O’Grady snatched NCI’s other try to make it 18-3 at the break.
Carlow dominated the entire second half, with Stephen Clifford kicking all their points, but they just couldn’t break down the sturdy NCI pack.
Scorers for Carlow IT: Tries: Kenny 2, Hegarty, Croke, Wojnar. Con: Croke. Pen: Croke.
Scorers for Athlone IT: Tries: Harte, Fagan. Con: Connellan 2. Drop goal: Bennett.
: Waters; Harvery, Sanderson, O’Neill, Kenny; Croke, Sutton; Hegarty, Lynch, Wattlesworth; Walsh, Miller; Duke, O’Shea, Wojnar.
Mitchell; O’Connor, Harte, Madden, Connaughton; Bennett, Connellan; Staunton, Ryan, Brady; Byrne, DeBurca; Stapleton, Fagan, Walsh.
Scorers for Cork IT: Try: McNamara. Con: O’Keeffe. Pens: O’Keeffe 5.
Scorers for Carlow IT: Tries: Owens, Finan. Con: Sheridan (2). Pen: Sheridan.
Dean; Clohessey, Hurley, Fleming, Mulcahy; O’Keeffe, Barry; Foley, Murray, Flavin; Mullins, Keogh; O’Donnell, O’Brien, McCarthy.
Subs: Dowling for O’Brien 4, McNamara for Murray 47, Morrissey for Flavin 47.
Southgate; Nolan, McQuillan, Barcoe, Lynch; Sheridan, Kenny; Kelly, Grenham, O’Rourke; Turner, Smith; Bulmer, Owens, Nolan. Subs: Finan for Kelly 56, O’Grady for O’Rourke 56.
Scorers for NCI: Tries: McGinty, O’Grady, Con: McGinty, Pens: McGinty (2).
Scorers for Carlow IT: Pens: Clifford (3).
: O’Byrne; O’Grady, D’Arcy, Hanratty, Johnson; McGinty, Ward; MurrIn, Tonge, Cadwell; Kennedy, Sherwin, Tiernan, Short, Crosby.
Clifford; Waters, Wall, Carthy, McDonagh; Dempsey, McCleery; O’Grady, Adams, O’Brien; Rogers, Clark; Fay, Crossan-Murphy, O’Byrne.