By Kieran Murphy
TIME flies. Is it really four years since Rangers last won a senior hurling final? Their 2014 All-Ireland club final appearance was historic, but in the meantime they have had to watch as St Mullins completed a three-in-row.
In his first year as manager, Brendan Fennelly was well aware of this but from early on Sunday he felt Rangers were not going to let this one slip.
“I was very pleased with them this morning when I met them.
Their striking of the ball was very clean today. At half-one they were all very relaxed but very tuned-in,” the Rangers manager remarked.
“These lads were under a lot of pressure. I could sense it. I didn’t have any baggage, but they had.”
It was a theme Paul Coady picked up on.
“When you lose something you miss it the most. With what has happened over the last three years the team have been hurting and there have been a lot of sleepless nights over the winter.
“You live with it. It is sore and is deep down inside you. It is relief now. Not elation. Definitely relief,” said the youngest of the three Coady brothers who started on Sunday.
He developed his argument.
“No disrespect to Naomh Eoin, but this was coming. You have been writing that we were not the team we were, but we are coming again. I knew this was in us.
“All week we prepared for Myshall but I knew if we hit form no team in Carlow will live with us. Thankfully, it came today. There is more in us and that is not being egotistical,” said the man who now leads by example.
“To quote you two weeks ago, you said there was not too much in the pipe-line but Chris Nolan, Jack Murphy, Kevin McDonald, Michael Malone, James Kelly and Ted Joyce are all collecting their first medal today.
“They got a bit of hurt before today so they will remember that throughout their career. There is plenty of motivation to stay going and do more in a Rangers jersey.”
Chris Nolan confessed his transition from having a superb underage career to being a winner on the senior team took longer than he would have liked.
“It took a while for us to come through. This is my third year and I have lost two finals.
“It took time for me to win my first and people were questioning whether we would step up. No way we could have gone back to Borris if we had lost this one.”
In the first half, he scored three badly needed points from play. In the second period he didn’t feature on the scoreboard. He didn’t mind as Diarmuid Byrne and Denis Murphy scored the clinching goals.
“It didn’t matter who got the scores as long as we stayed scoring. It was probably our best first half in a long time. In the second half we got scores when we needed scores.”