St Mullins 2-17 Mount Leinster Rangers 1-19
A 64th minute point from Jason O'Neill clinched victory for St Mullins in an enthralling Carlow senior hurling final on Sunday.
Rangers started well with Denis Murphy converting two frees but St Mullins grew quickly into the contest. Intercounty player, Marty Kavanagh, dropped deep and when in possession he ran at the Rangers defence.
The tactic paid dividends and Patrick Boland made perfect contact with a dropping ball to score St Mullins opening goal on 12 minutes. The net bulged again five minutes later when Kavanagh picked out Seamus Murphy who fired home.
In between the two three-pointers St Mullins were dealt a hammer blow when Ger Coady was sent off for a challenge on Jon Nolan. Rangers hit back with a goal from Denis Murphy on 24 minutes as both sides threw their bodies on the line in pursuit of victory.
In injury time play continued to swing from end to end as Kavanagh ran at the Rangers defence to fire over but Murphy cancelled that out with his sixth free of the half. St Mullins roared back and James Doyle and Murphy traded further points to leave the challengers leading by 2-12 to 1-09 at the interval.
The fifteen players rattled off five points without reply in the opening fourteen minutes of the second half before two frees from Kavanagh settled St Mullins. The holders have plenty of experience and they continued to battle to reduce the deficit. It was edge of the seat stuff and when Jon Nolan picked off two points on the trot to level the game it looked as if Rangers were set to push on.
James Doyle replied with a spectacular point from the 65 metre mark to restore the St Mullins lead with four minutes remaining. It was tight all the way to the end.
A Denis Murphy free looked as if it was going to finish level but in the very last attack of the game Jason O'Neill was on hand to become the hero of the hour.
St Mullins: Kevin Kehoe; Chris Kavanagh, Paul Doyle, Gary Bennett; John Doran, Michael Walsh, Ger Coady; James Doyle (0-3), Oisin Boland; Patrick Walsh, Seamus Murphy (1-1), Marty Kavanagh (0-10, 0-5 frees); Jason O’Neill (0-2), Patrick Boland (1-1), Philip Connors.
Subs: Peter Fortune for P. Walsh (48 mins), Oisin Ryan for Boland (61 mins).
Mount Leinster Rangers: Dean Grennan; Willie Hickey, Dara Tobin, Michael Doyle; Kevin McDonald, Richard Coady, Richard Kelly; Diarmuid Byrne (0-1), Jack Murphy; Jon Nolan (0-2), Ted Joyce (0-1), David Phelan; Denis Murphy (1-13, 0-13 frees), Chris Nolan (0-2), Eddie Byrne. Subs: Paul Coady for Phelan (28 mins), Derek Byrne for Kelly (33 mins), Michael Malone for Tobin (62 mins).
Referee: Paud O’Dwyer (Palatine)