Leinster Club Senior Hurling Championship semi-final
Mount Leinster Rangers 0-10
By Kieran Murphy
ON Sunday at Tullamore in the Leinster club senior hurling semi-final Rangers had one of those days where nothing happened for them.
To take it a step further, they as a group were unable to make anything happen. On the pitch they got it wrong and crucially, you could argue, they got it wrong on the line too.
In the 25th minute the Offaly champions were reduced to 14 when Cillian Kiely appeared to dig his hurl into Diarmuid Byrne’s rib cage but in response, they just raised their game and everything went right for them. Up to that it had been close. Admittedly, the eventual winners were beginning to look dangerous when creating two goal chances. On 16 minutes Frank Foley saving brilliantly from Daniel Currams and after that at least three home players failed to make contact on the edge of the small square when a cooler head would have found the net.
It was point for point up to the 15th minute with Ciaran Slevin converting two frees and Cillian Kiely shooting one over from 50 metres. Chris Nolan, Diarmuid Byrne and Ted Joyce all replied for Rangers. Further scores from Peter Geraghty and Slevin nudged Kilcormac-Killoughey ahead by two.
The Carlow side looked to be well in the game after Denis Murphy availed of good work from Rangers’ best player on the day, Michael Doyle, to shoot a point. Another Slevin free put the home lead out to two points once more just before Kiely’s dismissal.
Then it all went wrong for one side and very much right for the other.
When Daniel Currams brought another good save from Foley the net-minder was left exposed by his defence when James Gorman appeared at the far post to shoot into an empty net.
In reply to the dismissal, the Rangers selectors withdrew Richard Coady, possibly feeling that having received a yellow card, keeping him on the field was a risk. Minutes earlier the experienced Willie Hickey was also withdrawn to be replaced by Michael Malone. Trailing at half-time 1-8 to 0-4, Eddie Coady and Denis Murphy were also withdrawn. In total, in the space of 18 minutes Rangers were down four of the most experienced faces who have ever pulled on the red and black jersey. If their morale was low from the mauling they received in the second quarter their heads were surely all over the place now.
And so it transpired. Immediately after the interval Gorman added two points. Currams scored another with Gorman bringing this total to 1-3 by the 34th minute.
For Rangers, Diarmuid Byrne replied with a lovely score under the stand and to the left of the posts. On other days, it could have been a point to inspire. In Tullamore on Sunday it was crumbs from the master’s table.
Chris Nolan converted a free but any hint of an attempted fight-back was snuffed out when Currams, Gorman and substitute Stephen Leonard all found the posts.
It was far too easy. Then Currams scored his side’s second goal and with 19 minutes to go time crawled for supporters of the Carlow champions. There was little to enthuse about. Possibly the performance of young Jon Nolan who had lined out for Borris Vocational School four days earlier was a talking point. He made his speed tell but a vastly experienced Offaly outfit just snuffed out his challenge with relative ease.
Time dragged to the final whistle. Not even the dismissal of David Phelan of Rangers, when hurls broke and pieces of wood flew through the air, raised eyebrows around the ground.
It was a day when good hurlers on the Offaly side looked a lot better than they probably were, while good players in the Rangers team looked a lot worse than they are. A bad day at the office for the Carlow champions while Kilcormac-Kiloughey will have learned little about themselves. Now they will have to do without the services of Kiely when they face Cuala in the Leinster final.
Kilcormac-Killoughey: Conor Slevin; Killian Leonard, Ger Healion, Kevin Grogan; Enda Grogan, Damien Kilmartin, Jordan Quinn; Cillian Kiely (0-1), Ciaran Slevin (0-5 frees); James Gorman (1-5), Conor Mahon (0-3), Peter Geraghty (0-2); Thomas Geraghty (0-1), Peter Healion, Daniel Currams (1-3). Subs: Stephen Leonard (0-1) for P. Healion (18 mins), Alan McConville for K. Leonard (49 mins), James Geraghty for K. Grogan (51 mins), Shaun Lowry for Kilmartin (55 mins), Shane Guinan for Currams (55 mins).
Mount Leinster Rangers: Frank Foley; Willie Hickey, Richard Kelly, Michael Doyle; Edward Coady, David Phelan, Gary Kelly; Diarmuid Byrne (0-2 0-1 free), Richard Coady; Paul Coady (0-1), Jack Murphy, Edward Byrne; Denis Murphy (0-1), Chris Nolan (0-4 0-2 frees), Ted Joyce (0-1). Subs: Michael Malone for Hickey (18 mins), Kevin McDonald for R. Coady (22 mins), Jon Nolan (0-1) for D. Murphy (h/t), Gary Lawlor for E. Coady (h/t).
Referee: John O’Brien (Laois).