An attendance of 3,500 saw the sides go in level at half-time – 2-3 to 1-6. But the challengers hit the ground running on the resumption with points from J J Smith, Diarmuid Cronin, Ed Finnegan and Gary Dempsey.
The final had exploded into action in a two minute period at the end of the opening quarter. Rathvilly’s JJ Smith saw his shot for goal brilliantly saved by Old Leighlin goalkeeper James Clarke, but the alert Diarmuid Cronin smashed the loose ball to the net.
Within a minute man of the match Alan Kelly saw his shot from a bad angle find the corner of Clarke’s net.
Stung by that double reversal, the champions responded with a well-worked goal from midfielder Hughie Gahan.
Rathvilly’s greater teamwork and desire was what separated the teams, however. They were strong in defence, with a good supply of ball going into dangerous forwards JJ Smith, Ed Finnegan, Alan Kelly and Diarmuid Cronin.
Scorers for Rathvilly: D Cronin 1-1, A Kelly 1-0, E Finnegan, G Dempsey (0-1 free), J J Smith (0-1 free), Brian Murphy (0-1 free), 0-2 each.
Scorers for Old Leighlin: C Coughlan (0-1 free), S Kinsella (0-3 frees), 0-4 each H Gahan 1-1, W Minchin 0-1.
RATHVILLY: R Molloy; B J Molloy, A Sibbald, K Byrne; J Leonard, Brendan Murphy, J O’Donoghue; K Doyle, Brian Murphy; A Kelly, E Finnegan, W O’Donoghue; D Cronin, G Dempsey, J J Smith.
Subs: C Byrne for Brendan Murphy (injured) (38); E Molloy for Doyle (44); P Byrne for W O’Donoghue (47); D Molloy for Cronin (53).
OLD LEIGHLIN: J Clarke; G Hickey, M Meaney (Blackbush), R Burke; D Dowling, J Hayden, D Kelly; D Bambrick, H Gahan; M Brennan, P Hickey, M Meaney (Monemore); C Coughlan, W Minchin, S Kinsella.
Subs: E Fitzgerald for Burke (34); S Bambrick for Hickey (38); S Kennedy for M Meaney (Monemore) (44).
Referee: J Hickey (Fenagh).