Coolderry 1-22 Mount Leinster Rangers 1-16
A combined total of 1-17 from goalkeeper Stephen Corcoran and corner forwards Brian Carroll and Kevin Connolly was the foundation for Coolderry’s victory in a titanic battle between the Leinster champions of 2011 and 2013 at Bord na Móna O’Connor Park in Tullamore this afternoon.
Kevin Brady and Mark Bergin were both sent off for the Offaly champions in the second half of this encounter but the home side still held firm to record a six-point win, with Corcoran saving a late penalty from Kevin McDonald to make sure of the win.
It was a dramatic encounter from start to finish that kept the crowd enthralled up until the closing minutes, however in terms of quality, the opening half was as good as anything that was produced on this Tullamore field all year long.
Mount Leinster Rangers made the same trip last winter to take on Kilcormac-Killoughey but were easily swatted aside by the Faithful County representatives on that occasion, but despite starting this game with fourteen players that competed in that game, they were a completely transformed side this year and were desperately unlucky to trail by four points, 1-13 to 1-9, at the half time whistle.
They shot four of the first six points of the game, all from play, with Chris Nolan in particular catching the eye with a superb strike from out on the right touchline. Corner forwards Denis Murphy and Jon Nolan were also on target, while the Mount Leinster Rangers half back and half forwards lines were superb in those early exchanges, competing well under the puckout and ensuring a steady supply of ball for their marksmen.
At the other end of the field Richard Kelly was in control of his battle with Coolderry veteran and man-mountain Joe Brady, so it fell to club captain Kevin Connolly to take the fight to Mount Leinster Rangers with a series of magnificent points from a variety of angles. Connolly gave Coolderry their first lead of the game after 17 minutes, only for Mount Leinster to reply with a fine team goal, Chris Nolan rifling the sliothar into the roof of the net after good approach play from Eddie and Diarmuid Byrne.
Coolderry’s reply was instant and no less emphatic, Brian Carroll picking out the top corner of the net from 25 metres with a blistering drive at the end of the next attack. The score restored Coolderry’s lead, but crucially, it ensured that momentum shifted right back to the Offaly club, who took full advantage to build their half time lead.
Two excellent long-range points from Mark Bergin added to that advantage after half time, but the tie changed considerably when Coolderry centre back and former Offaly star Kevin Brady was sent off for his second bookable offence after 37 minutes.
Joachim Kelly’s side were guilty of a couple of errant clearances straight to Richard Coady, who soon found himself as the free man in the Mount Leinster Rangers back line, and the visitors used the ball very well coming out of defence to set up a series of scoring chances, with Diarmuid Byrne in particular finding himself on the end of a series of patient moves out of defence.
A succession of wides midway through the half ensured that Coolderry continued to enjoy a reasonable amount of breathing room, but still the gap was cut to three points with ten minutes to play when Jack Murphy, Ted Joyce and Eddie Byrne all scored in quick succession.
That was to be as close as they got however as Coolderry held firm, with Mark Bergin picking off his third point from distance before he joined Brady on the sideline after seeing red for a wild pull across Richard Coady, while Brian Carroll earned a free in the left corner of the attack that he converted himself for the last score of the game.
There was still time for Eddie Byrne to drive at the Coolderry goal and earn a penalty after he was dragged down by Trevor Corcoran, but Trevor’s brother Stephen was on hand to dive low to his right and parry the ball away to safety, denying Mount Leinster their much-needed lifeline.
Coolderry: Stephen Corcoran (0-05f); Stephen Connolly, Trevor Corcoran, Stephen Burke; Barry Teehan, Kevin Brady, Brian Kelly; Mark Bergin (0-03), David King; Conor Molloy (0-02), Martin Corcoran, Eoghan Parlon; Brian Carroll (1-05, 0-03 f), Joe Brady, Kevin Connolly (0-07).
Subs: Cathal Parlon for J Brady (HT), Willie Malone for M Corcoran (45), Declan Parlon for E Parlon (47), Daniel Miller for Carroll (60+3)
Mount Leinster Rangers: Dean Grennan; Gary Kelly, Richard Kelly, Michael Doyle; Kevin McDonald, Richard Coady, Gary Lawlor; David Phelan, Diarmuid Byrne (0-03); Jack Murphy (0-02), Michael Malone (0-01), Eddie Byrne (0-02); Denis Murphy (0-03, 0-02 f), Chris Nolan (1-03), Jon Nolan (0-01).
Subs: Paul Coady for D Murphy (37), Ted Joyce (0-01) for Phelan (43), Willie Hickey for G Lawlor (52), James Kelly for J Nolan (60+1)
Referee: John Keenan (Wicklow)