Portumna turn the heat up

Portumna (Galway) 0-19 Mount Leinster Rangers (Carlow) 0-11

Portumna turn the heat up

Well merited too, let it be said.

The pity though, is that on this the biggest day of all, Rangers seemed to run out of both ambition and belief. They were probably never going to win the game, but they were not out of their depth.

This is a vintage Portumna team, no question, but this was by no means a vintage Portumna display. Not even close. It would have been interesting to see how they’d have reacted had Mount Leinster Rangers really taken the game to them and upped the tempo.

Portumna won’t give a damn about that of course, and rightly so. They won. It’s their fourth All-Ireland title in just nine years. It’s a fourth medal also for 12 of those who started yesterday, while Martin Dolphin and Conor O’Hare were winning their third and only 18-year-old Ronan O’Meara was a first-timer. They now join Birr in second place on the roll of honour behind Ballyhale Shamrocks.

But this was not Portumna at their best. They were vulnerable, definitely, but Rangers didn’t take advantage. Under-hit balls out of defence went to Portumna players, over-hit balls went wide or over the sideline. This wasn’t the efficient, confident side that had defied the odds and taken out Ballyboden St Enda’s and Oulart-The Ballagh in Leinster, then 2012 champions Loughgiel Shamrocks in the All-Ireland semi-final.

That Portumna played so much within themselves is probably understandable. Mount Leinster Rangers did start well, led 0-3 to 0-1 after nine minutes with Denis Murphy, their scoring star in so many big games, getting two of those.

From the 10th to the 20th minute though, Portumna took control, half-forwards Kevin Hayes, Damien Hayes and Ollie Canning with a point each, midfielder Joe Canning with three, a six-point unanswered run that turned a two-point deficit into a four-point lead, one they held at the break (0-9 to 0-5).

That scoring burst told this vastly experienced Portumna side all they needed to know. They were the better team. Play it cool. Take no chances and this title was theirs.

On the sideline also, a similar story. Portumna manager Frank Canning accepts younger brother Joe’s best position is at full-forward and had they switched him in there yesterday the probability is the killer goal — maybe even more than one — would come.

Frank is also aware, however, that by taking Joe out of midfield he was risking cutting off the supply inside. So, in midfield Joe stayed, pulling the strings, slotting over the points from placed balls.

The hope of those neutrals in the fine 31,472 attendance was that being only those four points down, not yet having got really into the game, Mount Leinster Rangers would come with a burst in the second half. It never happened.

Credit for that goes to the utterly dominant Portumna defence. Wing-forward Paul Coady was the only Rangers forward to shine (three second-half points from play) up against veteran Eugene McEntee, who was a tower of strength at full-back.

At the other end another pair of veterans were also showing the way, captain Ollie Canning and Damien Hayes with two good points each, but Joe continued to do the bulk of the Portumna scoring. Most of those from placed balls to maintain that distance between the teams in a fractured game.

A pity the Mount Leinster Rangers fairytale should end so tamely, so controversially also, wing-back Edward Coady sent off for an incident spotted by the linesman, then Hawk-Eye called on in added time in a game Portumna had already wrapped up. For these outstanding champions, however, another All-Ireland title, another slice of history.

Scorers for Portumna: J Canning 0-10 (8f), O Canning, D Hayes 0-3 each, K Hayes 0-2, R O’Meara 0-1.

Scorers for Mount Leinster Rangers: D Murphy 0-5 (4f), P Coady 0-3, D Phelan, J Coady, HP O’Byrne 0-1 each.

PORTUMNA: J Keane; G Heagney, E McEntee, C O’Hare; P Smith, M Dolphin, E Lynch; J Canning, L Smith; K Hayes, D Hayes, O Canning (c); N Hayes, A Smith, R O’Meara.

Subs for Portumna: O Tracey for P Smith (inj, 44), P Dolphin for M Hayes (45), O Royston for O’Meara (60).

MOUNT LEINSTER RANGERS: F Foley; M Doyle, G Doyle, G Kelly; Diarmuid Byrne, R Coady, E Coady; Derek Byrne, P Nolan; P Coady, E Byrne, D Phelan (c); E Doyle, J Coady, D Murphy.

Subs for Mount Leinster Rangers: HP O’Byrne for J Coady (36), J Murphy for Phelan (50), W Hickey for E Doyle (inj, 55), D Nolan for Derek Byrne (60), C Burke for Diarmuid Byrne (60).

Referee: B Kelly (Westmeath).

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