History was created in Croke Park on Saturday evening when Mount Leinster Rangers became the first team from Carlow to win an All-Ireland club title.
They did so against the odds, overcoming the loss of red-carded full-back Brian Nolan in the 28th minute to edge out a gallant Middletown Na Fianna in a high-quality final.
Both of these clubs are senior champions of their own counties and that quality was on show from start to finish. Middletown made the early running and were 1-3 to 0-1 aheadafter 13 minutes courtesy of the superb Martin Maguire’s goal.
Carlow county star Eoin Doyle managed to nullify that goal however with one of his own in the 14th minute, getting in behind a defence that for once was caught napping.
Middletown recovered from that body blow and stormed five points clear again by the 30th minute (1-8 to 1-3). With Mount Leinster now down to 14, it was looking grim for the men from Carlow. Two quick points before the break from free-taker Denis Murphy, however, gave them hope, and when the same player added three more from placed balls after the restart, it was very definitely game back on.
From there to the end it was tit-for-tat, Rangers using the giant presence of Edward Byrne to greateffect on the edge of the square. Time and again he drew fouls which were punished by the unerring Murphy.
Triumph in the end, by two points, and just about deserved, but kudos also to Middletown for their contribution to a fine game.
Scorers for Mount Leinster Rangers: D Murphy 0-10 (0-9f, 0-1 65); E Doyle 1-1; D Phelan, E Byrne, 0-1 each.
Scorers for Middletown Na Fianna: M Maguire 1-3; D Carvill 0-5 (0-5f); M Moan 0-2; P McBride 0-1.
MOUNT LEINSTER RANGERS: F Foley; G Kelly, B Nolan, K Lawlor (c); J Hickey, R Coady, E Coady; P Nolan, D Byrne; J Coady, D Phelan, E Byrne; HP O’Byrne, D Murphy, E Doyle.
Subs: W Hickey (HP O’Byrne 59); P Coady (D Murphy 59).
MIDDLETOWN NA FIANNA: P Moan; B Mallon, P Gaffney, F Woods; P Hughes, N Curry, B McCann; P McBride, K McKernan; M Maguire, C McCann, D Carvill; C Carvill, R Gaffney, M Moan.
Subs: P McArdle (Hughes 42); N McCann (D Carvill 45); S Gaffney (C McCann 55)
Referee: P Casey (Waterford).
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved