Carlow’s Chris Nolan and Martin Kavanagh celebrate holding Kilkenny to a draw. [Inpho/James Lawlor]

Carlow stun Cats, share spoils

Carlow 1-20; Kilkenny 1-20

Yes, there have been shocks now and then in the hurling world but in terms of blow-your-mind unbelievable results, this was about the biggest upset I can remember in half a century of watching our national game.

Dr Cullen Park has housed a few football nights to remember but this hurling occasion had followers of the Barrow County actually in total disbelief after the game that they could slug it out with mighty neighbor Kilkenny, winners of 36 All Ireland titles, and end up sharing the spoils.

Sign up to The Irish Echo Newsletter

Sign up today to get daily, up-to-date news and views from Irish America.

A large part of the crowd in the ground had made the short trip across the county border and were bemused that the likes of TJ Reid and company could be held by this team, which qualified to play in the Leinster championship proper by beating Offaly in the Joe McDonagh Cup final in Croke Park last summer.

From that we knew that hurling in the second smallest county in the country was on the up but expecting a result like we got on Saturday was something akin to the USA drawing with the All Blacks or  Ireland’s soccer team winning the World Cup in 2026.

And the Carlow hero was Marty Kavanagh who showed nerves of steel when he landed a 50-meter free from an acute angle with the last puck of the game to level the encounter.

Kilkenny were 1/50 to win the game so who can blame Carlow supporters world wide if they are walking around with a spring in their step this week.

The game seemed to be going along predicted lines when Kilkenny led by five at the break. They looked to kill off the game through Tom Phelan half way through the second half but Brian Tracey made a miraculous save to deny the Cats’ forward.

The home side played with great guts and when Conor Kehoe was on hand to force home an opportunist goal, it got the crowd believing they could avoid defeat.

Donagh Murphy leveled for Carlow  when time was up but who else but TJ Reid appeared to put them to the sword with two late points.

Carlow refused to bow the knee and James Doyle made it a one-point game before  Phelan conceded a free which Kavanagh slotted home, albeit on a curved trajectory.

Carlow: B Tracey; P Doyle, D Wall, N Bolger; T Lawlor, K McDonald, F Fitzpatrick (0-2); S Joyce, R Coady; J Nolan, C Nolan (0-4), M Kavanagh (0-9, 0-8fs, 0-1 65); J McCullagh, J M Nolan (0-1), S Treacy Subs: C Kehoe (1-0) for Treacy (ht), P Boland (0-1) for J MNolan (ht), C Whelan for Joyce (ht), J Doyle (0-1) for Coady (50), D Murphy (0-1) for Joe Nolan (62).

Kilkenny: E Murphy; M Butler, H Lawlor (0-1), K Doyle; D Blanchfield, D Corcoran, SMurphy (0-1); C Kenny (0-3), J Molloy; M Keoghan (0-3), J Donnelly, T Phelan (0-2); B Ryan (0-1), TJ Reid (0-6, 0-4fs), O Wall (1-3) Subs: T Walsh for Ryan (ht), C Fogarty for Molloy (42), B Drennan for Wall (58).

Ref: C Mooney (Dublin).