Éire Óg 0-15 Rathvilly 0-09

Éire Óg made it four-in-a-row Carlow senior championships when they outfought and outbattled challengers, Rathvilly in a teak-tough delayed 2020 encounter on Sunday in Netwatch Cullen Park.

When the club went on their great run in 2017 it was the same opponents they beat in a replay but a draw was unlikely to happen here.

It was tight in the opening half. Rathvilly played with the aid of a strong breeze but they never made it tell. Several frees were missed which they will rue while Éire Óg played a possession game and fought doggedly for everything they got.

Two Rathvilly points from Brendan Murphy and one from Conor Doyle in the opening nine minutes asked a question of the champions but they hit back in kind with scores from Jordan Morrissey, Chris Blake and Darragh O'Brien.

Just before half-time O’Brien and Blake were on target again which gave the YIs a crucial 0-6 to 0-4 interval lead. Ross Dunphy extended their lead immediately after the break with a neat point but they had a let-off when a long ball dropped in on their small square.

It could have gone anywhere but was deflected out for a 45 which was not converted. Instead Éire Óg surged up the field, picked off two points and could have had a goal but Blake saw his flicked effort with his fingertips go narrowly wide. In reply, Brian Murphy converted two Rathvilly frees but they needed more.

The holders introduced Colm Hulton in the last quarter. His pace helped lift all those around him and he became the go-to player up front.

He revelled in the space which he created himself. Much of what was fed in to him was of the highest order. His four points more than anything else helped crush the attempted Rathvilly fightback.

While they could never fully relax until the final whistle the champions held out without mishap to record their 30th senior championship title.

Éire Óg: Robbie Moore; Kelvin Chatten, Mark Fitzgerald, Benny Kavanagh; Jordan Lowry, Mark Furey, Paul McElligott; Jordan Morrissey (0-02), Eoghan Ruth; Sean Gannon, Adam Murphy, Recce Denieffe; Darragh O’Brien (0-03, 3f), Chris Blake (0-02, 2m), Ross Dunphy (0-03).

Subs: Colm Hulton (0-04) for Blake (44), Cormac Mullins for Murphy (51), Murtough Ware for Denieffe (55), Diarmuid Ruth for Chatten (61), Niall Quinlan (0-1) for Dunphy (61).

Rathvilly: Robbie Molloy; Barry John Molloy, Josh Moore, Jamie Byrne; Tony Bolger, Colin Byrne, Conor Doyle (0-01); Brendan Murphy (0-04), Ed Finnegan; Alan Kelly, Darragh Murphy (0-01, 1f), Brian Murphy (0-03, 2f); Kevin Murphy, Jake Elliott, Brian Smith.

Subs: Danny Molloy for Kelly (40), Robert Ryan for D. Murphy (49), Jeffrey O’Donoghue for Brian Murphy (61).

Referee: David Hickey (Fenagh).