JJ Kavanagh & Sons Senior Hurling Championship Final
St Mullins 1-14
Mount Leinster Rangers 0-10
At Netwatch Cullen Park
By John Whelan
St Mullins have retained the Carlow Senior Hurling Championship in impressive fashion. A highly composed final ten minutes saw them surge clear of Mount Leinster Rangers in what had been a tit for tat battle since the opening exchanges. The teams were level seven times before a James Doyle goal edged St Mullins into a lofty six point lead. It is St Mullins’ 25th senior hurling title and their first two in a row since their victories in 1999 and 2000.
Martin Kavanagh opened his tally on three minutes with a free. Denis Murphy cancelled it out with a free of his own before Derek Byrne edged MLR into a one point lead on nine minutes. Denis Murphy doubled the lead on twelve minutes.
St Mullins stopped MLR getting too much of a grip on the game and Martin Kavanagh found acres of space to run into and pop it over the bar. He quickly added a free to level the sides on eighteen minutes. John Coady caught the resulting puck out and reclaimed the lead. John Murphy found himself in an advanced position but the MLR defence were able to deal with him and prevent a shot at goal.
James Doyle levelled the sides once more on twenty two minutes when he scored from the halfway mark. Denis Murphy converted a free from around the 65 metre line to give MLR the lead as normal time expired. St Mullins did not switch off and Michael Walsh got a fine score before Seamus Murphy tagged on a score on the cusp of the halftime whistle. St Mullins would not trail MLR again. It was St Mullins 0-6, MLR 0-5 at the break.
Padraig Nolan levelled the sides in the early going of the second half. The back and forth nature of the game continued and Martin Kavanagh converted yet another free to give them the lead once more. Denis Murphy responded with a free of his own before Jack Kavanagh scored to give St Mullins the lead again. As the game entered the final twenty the minutes there was very little separating them and a winner was looking increasingly unlikely.
Denis Murphy’s converted free on forty one minutes was the last time they drew level with St Mullins. Martin Kavanagh kept the scoreboard ticking and importantly reclaimed the lead for St Mullins on forty four minutes and extended their lead gradually to three, the biggest lead up until that point. James Doyle then landed a decisive blow on MLR. Doyle blasted the ball passed Frank Foley in the MLR goal to double the lead with nine minutes left.
Ed Byrne instantly replied, MLR’s first score in ten minutes to reduce the deficit to five. James Doyle continued his rich vein of form with another point as the clock ticked down. Chris Nolan replied with
an energetic score to keep MLR in touch but they couldn’t maintain a sustained effort as St Mullins continued to battle hard. Michael Walsh restored the six point lead with just three minutes remaining. James Doyle capped off a fine performance and closed St Mullins’s tally in stoppage time.
St Mullins were not the favourites for this game despite being county champions, they were deserved winners and will now face Clonkill of Westmeath in Netwatch Cullen Park on November 1st.
MLR Frank Foley, Michael Doyle, Garry Doyle, Edward Coady, Michael Malone, Richard Coady, Richard Kelly, David Phelan, Diarmuid Byrne, Derek Byrne(0-1), Edward Byrne(0-1), Denis Murphy(0-5, 5fs), Padraig Nolan(0-1), John Coady(0-1), Ted Joyce SUBS Seamus O’Brien, Dean Grennan( in for T Joyce 59 mins), Brian Nolan( in for R Kelly at ht) , Kevin McDonald(in for J Coady 40 mins), David Grennan, Seamus Kelly, Chris Nolan(0-1)( in for E Coady 50 mins), Jack Murphy( in for D Phelan 45 mins), Hugh Patrick O’Byrne, Daniel Ryan , Luke Roche, Gary Kelly, James Hickey, Paul Coady Willie Hickey
ST. MULLINS Kevin Kehoe, Paul Doyle, John Doran, Gary Bennett, Darren Whelan, Paudie Kehoe, Ger Coady, Jack Kavanagh(0-1), Michael Walsh(0-2), Peter Fortune, James Doyle(1-3), Martin Kavanagh(0-7, 4fs), John Walsh, John Murphy, Seamus Murphy(0-1) SUBS James Curran, Alex Doyle, Michael Kehoe, Paul Kehoe, Philip Connors( in for J Walsh 45 mins), Oisin Boland, John Murphy, Chris Kavanagh Shaun Gahan, Aaron Ralph, Gavin Connolly, Jamie McDonald, Pat Fenlon, Stephen Elmes