A dozen second-half points saw Carlow overcome Meath at Trim on Sunday to secure an Allianz NHL Division 2 final spot
Carlow ............ 0-20
Carlow closed in on a final meetng with Westmeath when outscoring the hosts by 0-10 to 1-3 in the final 25 minutes. Preservation of their league status is welcome for promoted Meath
Three Shane McGann saves denied Carlow goal during the course of a tetchy encounter. Two other goal attempts from the visitors missed the target.
Meath lost midfielder Keith Keoghan to two yellow cards in the opening half. Just before the end Meath's Darragh Kelly and Carlow's John Michael Nolan were redcarded by referee Gerard McGrath.
John Michael Nolan were very effective after the break for Carlow and if absent from the decider will impact on the Barrowsiders. An win over Kerry in an earlier round was central to the overall outcome.
An Anthony Forde point left it 0-8-each within 20 seconds of the resumption. Meath kept Carlow in their sights for remainder of the third quarter despite being a man down and playing into the wind.
From the midpoint of the half, Carlow deservedly pulled clear. They might have moved further ahead but midfielder Jack Kavanagh was wide with a goal attempt while a similar effort from Chris Nolan was comfortably collected by Shane McGann.
James Doyle chipped in with four second-half points from play. Chris Nolan and Martin Kavanagh shared 10 scores between them.
A brilliant Forde goal - completing excellent approach play - left just four points in it (0-19 to 1-12) after 63 minutes. The sides shared a point apiece to conclude the scoring before the aforementioned late dismissals.
Wind-assisted Meath opened a relatively low scoring first-half on the front foot with Paddy Conneely pointing from the right hand side inside 30 seconds.
Jack Regan's accuracy from play and placed balls pushed Meath 0-6 to 0-2 ahead by the mid-point of the half.
The scores were tied three times in the opening 35 minutes. The brilliance of Meath 'keeper Shane McGann denied Carlow two goals before the break.
McGann saved from Chris Nolan and Martin Kavanagh while the latter was wide under pressure from close range late in the half.
Meath only managed one score (a Regan free) in the second quarter. Carlow hit the front for the first time with Chris Nolan's 32nd minute point. The same player earned the Barrowsiders a 0-8 to 0-7 interval advantage from a free when Martin Kavanagh was off the field receiving attention. The starting 15 resumed for the second-half.
Carlow - Brian Tracey; Alan Corcoran, Paul Doyle, Michael Doyle; Eoin Nolan, David English (0-1f), Richard Coady; Jack Kavanagh, Diarmuid Byrne (C) (0-1); Seamus Murphy, Paul Coady (0-1), John Michael Nolan (0-1); Martin Kavanagh (0-5, 4fs, 1 65), James Doyle (0-4), Chris Nolan (0-5, 1f). Subs - Denis Murphy for M Kavanagh (bs 35- 36), Richard Kelly (0-1) for M Doyle, Jack Murphy for J Kavanagh (49), Edward Byrne for M Kavanagh (60), Denis Murphy (0-1f) for P Coady (62), Kevin McDonald for C Nolan (65).
Meath - Shane McGann; Sean Geraghty, Damien Healy, Neil Weir; Joey Keena, Darragh Kelly, Shane Brennan; Anthony Forde (1-1), Keith Keoghan; Jack Regan (0-10, 7fs, 1 65), James Toher, James Kelly (C); Paddy Conneely (0-1), Eoin Marsh, Alan Douglas. Subs - Stephen Morris for Toher (50), Adam Gannon for Marsh (53), Sean Quigley (0-1) for Conneely (55), Cathal McCabe for Douglas (58).
Referee - Gerard McGrath (Wexford)