St Mullins 2-22 Bagenalstown Gaels 0-11

After beating Mount Leinster Rangers, the reigning champions, only seven days previously, Bagenalstown Gaels came to Netwatch Cullen Park full of hope that the fledgling club could win a first ever title.

By half-time, those hopes had all but receded with St Mullins well on target for a 28th senior title.

In that opening half on a sun-drenched pitch, St Mullins led 1-12 to 0-8 at the interval. The goal came at the start of the second quarter when Philip Connors raided down the left-hand side and instead of taking an easy point, he squared the ball across for Jason O'Neill to bat home.

With Jack McCullagh, JP Tracey and Mark McDonald all landing Bagenalstown points, you could never say they were playing badly but on county final day, experience is vital. St Mullins had it in abundance and O’Neill, James Doyle, John Doyle, Ger Coady and Paddy Boland all raised white flags.

Not even turning over St Mullins on two occasions in the final minutes of the half which yielded Bagenalstown points could dispel the fact that this was not going to be their day.

On the resumption, James Doyle added a 65 and O’Neill helped himself to 1-3 on the trot. They made it look easy which of course, up to the start of the final fifteen minutes, it most certainly was not.

From there, the game died a death. The St Mullins defence snuffed out any threat which Bagenalstown posed with John Doran, Paul Doyle and Michael Walsh in particular putting in the little blocks and hooks which hurt a side almost as much as conceding scores can.

The return of Marty Kavanagh who has been in America for the previous months was not fully required but of course he made his mark with three points on his arrival.

Nonetheless, after losing the final last year by eight points to Rangers, here was redemption and how the Carlow king-pins of hurling enjoyed their day.

St Mullins: Kevin Kehoe; John Doran, Paul Doyle, Cathal Connolly; Paudie O’Shea, Michael Walsh, Ger Coady (0-1); Jack Kavanagh, Oisin Boland; Jason O’Neill (2-6), Conor Kehoe, James Doyle (0-7 2fs); Philip Connors (0-1), Paddy Boland (0-2), John Doyle (0-2).

Subs: Paudie Kehoe for Connolly (23), Marty Kavanagh (0-3 2fs) for Kehoe (36), Eddie Doyle for John Doyle (47), Patrick Walsh for J. Kavanagh (57), Seamus Murphy for James Doyle (59).

Bagenalstown Gaels: Andrew Townsend; Niall Bolger, Darragh Nolan, Sean Wall; Cian Doyle, Alan Corcoran, Brian Doyle; Jack McCullagh (0-3), JP Tracey (0-2); Danny Doyle, Mark McDonald (0-2), Jamie Clarke; Jake Doyle, Craig Doyle (0-4 3fs), Paddy McDonnell.

Subs: Richie Whelan for McDonnell (37), Andrew Kane for D Doyle (41), Andrew Casey for Wall (41), James Doyle for B. Doyle (41), Jamie Whelan for McDonald (52).