Monday 8th May 2023
A general view of McKenna Park, Ballycran. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
By Dan Bannon at Ballycran
Carlow goalkeeper Brian Tracey was exceptional in their 13 point win over Down in the penultimate round of the Joe McDonagh Cup. The Naomh Eoin man was sensational at times with a several top drawer saves in either half and a stunning penalty save to boot.
With Tracey in sparkling form, his forwards did more than their due diligence at the other end with a ruthless approach to proceedings. With an All-Ireland hurling championship place in their grasp, Carlow grabbed it fully.
With one more round to play, Down still have a lifeline down the bottom with a shootout with winless Kildare next Saturday. Ronan Sheehan’s side will take some positives from the defeat.
Carlow's Conor Kehoe set the tone with a third minute goal, as he exploded through a ruck of bodies to find the net. With that, Carlow settled and controlled the game.
Down, short on confidence were snatching and forcing things and Chris Nolan punished directly off a miss to race home for the first of his two first half goals.
Carlow were really accurate in this period and coupled with Tracey’s agility to deny Caolan Teggart there was a sense it was not going to be the Mourne men’s day.
That was undeniably seen in Nolan’s second goal as the clipped home an easy goal after James Doyle’s shot for a point fell kindly to the impressive Mount Leinster Ranger.
Carlow’s all time record scorer Martin Kavanagh duly rounded off the half with a neat finish as Tom Mullally’s side took a commanding 4-14 to 0-11 lead into half time.
In similar fashion to the first Carlow got the bulk of their work done early in the half. Down goalkeeper made an uncharacteristic mistake to bundle over his own line to kill off any chance of a comeback.
Down had Jordan Doran sent off, while James Doyle dazzled with a stunning sixth goal for Carlow.
Despite Tracey’s wonderful penalty stop, Finn Turpin and Pearse Óg McCrickard did land some fine consolation efforts that will Down hope of going into the relegation shootout. Carlow were already thinking of next weekend's game against Offaly.
Scorers for Carlow: Martin Kavanagh 1-11 (7f), Chris Nolan 2-4, Jon Nolan 1-2, James Doyle 1-1, Conor Kehoe 1-0, Fiachra Fitzpatrick 0-2, John Michael Nolan, Kevin McDonald and Diarmuid Byrne 0-1 each.
Scorers for Down: Pearse Óg McCrickard 0-10 (8f), Finn Turpin 0-5, Oisín McManus, Marc Fisher, Caolan Teggart (1f), Ruairí McCrickard (1f) and Daithí Sands 0-2 each; Jordan Doran, Liam Savage and Matt Conlon 0-1each.
Carlow: Brian Tracey; Jack McCullagh, Chris Lawlor, Paul Doyle; Paudie O’Shea, Kevin McDonald, Jack Kavanagh; Fiachra Fitzpatrick, Diarmuid Byrne; James Doyle, Martin Kavanagh, Jon Nolan; Chris Nolan, John Michael Nolan, Conor Kehoe.
Subs: Jack Tracey for JM Nolan (HT), Richard Coady for Kehoe (56), Fiach O’Toole for J Kavanagh (68), Niall Bolger for Lawlor (70).
Down: Stephen Keith; Niall McFarland, Barry Trainor, John McManus; Marc Fisher, Caolan Teggart, Ruairí McCrickard; Jordan Doran, Liam Savage; Daithí Sands, Paul Sheehan, Finn Turpin; Oisín McManus, Chris Egan, Pearse Óg McCrickard.
Subs: Tom Murray for Doran (blood 30-32), Darragh Mallon for Trainor (36), Matt Conlon for Sheehan (41), Murray for McManus (48) , Jason Croskery for McFarland (62).
Referee: Michael Kennedy (Tipperary).