Dublin will be joined by Carlow, Laois, and Longford in the Leinster semi-finals.
The All-Ireland champions predictably demolished Wicklow in Portlaois today, but there were huge shocks elsewhere in the province.
Carlow beat Kildare by 2-13 to 1-10 in O’Connor Park yesterday to overcome the Lilywhites for the first time since 1953.
Laois also overcame Westmeath on Saturday evening, while Longford beat Meath for the first time since 1982.
Carlow, who won promotion from Division Four this year, stunned Kildare in Tullamore to set up a semi-final against Laois.
Paul Broderick kicked 11 points for the Barrowsiders, who incredibly, did not kick one wide against Cian O’Neill’s team.
Broderick scored the first point of the game following some good work from Sean Gannon, and Kildare struggled to get close to the talented forward.
Carlow ‘keeper Robbie Molly also guessed the right way to deny Eanna O’Connor from the penalty spot.
Despite falling behind to a sloppy goal in the sixth minute, Carlow bounced back to lead by 1-8 to 1-3 at the break.
Daniel St Ledger scored Carlow’s first goal with a long-range free, and Broderick added four frees to hand the home side a five point lead after 35 minutes.
Broderick again opened the scoring in the second half, this time with a fine effort from play.
The Barrowsiders were extremely well organised for the most part, though they did concede several goal chances in the first half. Hpwever, they handled the game well in the second half, and were incredibly accurate at the other end of the pitch.
Nine of Broderick’s 11 points came from placed balls, and the dead ball specialist made Kildare pay for their indiscipline time and time again.
Kildare’s task was made more difficult when Mick O’Grady was sent off with five minutes remaining, and Carlow corner back Conor Lawler secured the victory with a late goal.
Carlow deserve immense credit for their victory, and the county is gaining real momentum.
They have lost their star player Brendan Murphy to the US, but haven’t let his absence halt their progress in the Championship.
Carlow lost twice narrowly to Laois in the league this year, but will be hoping it’s a case of third time lucky against the Division Four, with a place in the provincial decider on the line.
Such an occasion would be great for either county, and both are moving in the right direction.
It’s also worth noting that they arguably gave Dublin their toughest test in Leinster last year.
“It’s a fantastic day for Carlow people,” manager Turlough O’Brien told RTÉ Sport.
“There’s messages coming to me from America, Australia… all over the world and for Carlow people, it’s captured their imagination how this team is playing, how they’re going.”
Kildare, on the other hand, have reached a crossroads.
Tomás Ó Sé predicted a Carlow upset yesterday – despite Kildare’s 65 year unbeaten run against the county – and said that the Kildare players need to take a long hard look at themselves.
Generally regarded as the province’s second best team, the Lilywhites have endured a torrid time since losing to the Dubs in last year’s Leinster final, and will enter the qualifiers extremely low on confidence. They were unable to handle the step up to Division One – losing all seven games – and they were also beaten by both Longford and Louth in the O’Byrne Cup earlier in this campaign.
“It was just catastrophic – that’s the word I would use,” Cian O’Neill admitted after today’s loss.
The weekend’s results mean that Dublin’s last three opponents in the Leinster final have all failed to make the semi-finals this time around.
The three teams joining the Division One champions in the semi-finals will all ply their trade in Division Three next year. In fact, the boys in blue will be the only Leinster team in the top tier of the league next season.
Carlow: R Molloy; C Crowley, S Redmond, C Lawlor 1-0; J Morrissey, D St Ledger 1-0, C Moran 0-1; S Murphy, E Ruth; S Gannon 0-1, D Foley 0-1, D Walshe; P Broderick 0-11 (0-9fs), D O’Brien, J Murphy.
Subs: D Moran for Crowley 48 mins, C Lawler for Walsh 54 mins, L Walker for O’Brien 64 mins, BJ Molloy for D Foley 75 mins.
Kildare: M Donnellan; P Kelly, D Hyland, M O’Grady; J Byrne, E Doyle, K Flynn 0-2; K Feely 0-3 (0-3fs), P Cribbin 0-3; F Conway, K Cribbin 0-1, P Brophy; E O’Connor, D Flynn 1-1, N Kelly.
Subs: C Healy for O’Connor 29 mins, D Slattery for K Cribbin 53 mins, T Moolick for Brophy 60 mins, E Callaghan for Kelly 66 mins.