Third Level GAA
Higher Educational Hurling League Division 1 Final
IT Carlow 3-20
DCU Dóchas Éireann 1-17
By Kieran Murphy
IT Carlow won a fourth Higher Education Senior Hurling Division 1 League title in a row when they produced a superb second-half performance to sweep away the challenge of DCU Dóchas Éireann at Hawkfield on Tuesday.
Their nine-point winning margin suggests this was easy enough, but nothing could be further from the truth. DCU posed a question and Carlow had to respond. They may have had the boost of two early goals but the winners made so much happen when things were going against them. Not for the first time, IT Carlow dug deep when they needed to.
Those early three-pointers came when Marty Kavanagh took possession and made space. Spotting Jack Fagan behind the defence, the Carlow Christy Ring Cup-winning captain delivered the perfect off-load and the full-forward easily found the net.
Killian Doyle replied with a point for DCU. Carlow won the puck-out and when Kavanagh stood over a free just over 45 metres out he was surely going for a point. His shot was low and into the heart of the DCU defence who had clearly switched off. Somehow the sliotar found the back of the net. DCU heads didn’t drop and in a 20-minute spell they outscored the Carlow team by 0-11 to 0-5.
Some of the scores were of the highest quality with Doyle, Daire Grey, Patrick Curran, Stephen O’Brien and Fergal Whitely all making their mark.
Carlow looked to be in trouble but they fought back with Kavanagh and Enda Rowland converting frees and Colin Dunford and Mark Russell also pointing. At half-time IT Carlow had turned a one-point deficit into a 2-8 to 0-13 lead.
One minute into the second half James Doyle set up Russell for a great point out on the left wing. Kavanagh and Rowland added further frees. Sean Downey and Richie Leahy picked off points from play to stretch the lead. Rowland also had to move smartly to save a shot from Patrick Curran. Seven points ahead at one stage, it was Carlow’s to lose now and their job was made that little bit easier when DCU lost a player to a straight red card.
For a spell IT Carlow didn’t cope too well with the extra man with the Dublin college targeting the right-hand side of the pitch. The ploy produced dividends and, at times, Carlow struggled and conceded two points.
Strong running produced a 20-metre free and Paudie Foley’s low shot easily found the net. That reduced the Carlow lead to two but they replied immediately. When the DCU defence failed to deal with a high , Seamus Casey was on hand to rifle home from close range. For all intents and purposes that was that.
With time running out DCU hoisted any amount of high ball into the full-forward line but on four occasions Kevin Hannafin reached out and grasped the sliotar cleanly in his hand.
As important as goals are, feats such as this break the hearts of incoming forwards. In addition Shane Reck was also on hand to effect vital clearances. It was fitting that another defender, James Doyle, should break clear and drive the sliotar over the crossbar at the other end. His team-mate from St Mullins, Marty Kavanagh, closed the scoring with a simple free.
A bit of IT Carlow sporting history was achieved. Now they will look to the Fitzgibbon Cup draw with renewed interest.
IT Carlow: Enda Rowland (0-4, frees, Laois); Shane Reck (Wexford), Kevin Hannafin (Kerry), Ross Brown (Waterford); Michael Redmond (Wexford), James Doyle (0-1, Carlow), Tommy Nolan (Tipperary); John Fitzpatrick (Kilkenny), Richie Leahy (0-2, Kilkenny); Sean Downey (0-3, Laois), Marty Kavanagh (1-6, 1-5 frees, Carlow), Charles Dwyer (Laois); Mark Russell (0-2, Tipperary), Jack Fagan (1-0, Waterford), Colin Dunford (0-2, Waterford). Subs: Seamus Casey (1-0, Wexford) for Fitzpatrick (24 mins), Robert Moran (Kilkenny) for Dwyer (58 mins), Stephen Bergin (Laois) for Dunford (61 mins).
DCU: Oisin Foley (Wexford); Darren Mullen (Kilkenny), Eoghan O’Donnell (Dublin), Aaron Maddock (Wexford); Paudie Foley (1-1 frees, Wexford), Conor Delaney (Kilkenny), Daire Grey (0-1, Dublin); Liam Fahey (Tipperary), Ciaran Dowling (0-1, Dublin); John Donnelly (0-3, Kilkenny), Killian Doyle (0-4, 0-1 free, Tipperary), Stephen O’Brien (0-1, Tipperary); Fergal Whitely (0-1, Dublin), Rian McBride (Dublin), Patrick Curran (0-5, 0-4 frees, 65). Subs: Donal Burke (Dublin) for McBride (h/t), Darren Byrne (Wexford) for Mullen, Conor Shaw (Westmeath) for Dowling, Conor Burke (Dublin) for O’Brien (all 40 mins), Peter Hogan (Waterford) for Whitely (51 mins), Colin Currie (Dublin) for Doyle (53 mins).
Referee: James McGrath (Wexford).