Michael Lyng Senior Football Championship
Mount Leinster Rangers 1-5
At Netwatch Cullen Park
By John Whelan
Rathvilly continued their strong start to the defence of their title with a win against MLR, they did however do it the hard way and Gary Dempsey’s 62nd minute point gave Rathvilly the lead for the first time and handed them the victory. Rathvilly went twenty one minutes before they registered their first score in the first half whereas MLR didn’t score in the last twenty five minutes of the second half.
MLR looked like they would add to their emphatic win over Tinryland in the early going when Chris Nolan blasted a ball narrowly over the bar after a Denis Roche pass to give MLR the lead after just eighteen seconds. MLR will look back on this game with frustration and in the aftermath of that Chris Nolan score they had the lion’s share of possession but failed to capitalise.
On the ninth minute Willie Hickey applied a vital touch on a dangerous ball and it ended up in the back of the net after referee David Hughes consulted his umpires. Adding to MLR’s frustration will be the chances they had on goal, Robbie Molloy was in fine form in the Rathvilly goal. He denied Kevin McDonald a goal in a period of MLR dominance that would help keep Rathvilly in the game. Ed Byrne converted a free on seventeen minutes to extend MLR’s lead to five.
Brian Murphy finally got Rathvilly off the mark on twenty one minutes with a fine individual effort from around the 35 metre mark. Within sixty seconds Rathvilly had another, this time through Danny Molloy after Colin Byrne and Ken Doyle both worked hard to keep the play alive and pass at the right time. Gary Kelly gave MLR a fourth point lead again in reply to Molloy’s point.
Rathvilly blitzed MLR again, with two minutes left in the half Gary Dempsey converted a free, on the next play Brian Murphy was fouled and a penalty awarded. Thomas Brennan saved the penalty. Gary Kelly added on another point into injury time to punish Rathvilly, leaving it MLR 1-4 Rathvilly 0-3 at half time.
Brian Murphy converted a free on thirty five minutes to bring Rathvilly back to within three. Gary Kelly cancelled it out with a point but that would be their last score of the game. Rathvilly looked like they’d have a chance to take command of the game when half time substitute Diarmuid Cronin was fouled and another penalty was awarded. JJ Smith sent the penalty wide. Rathvilly didn’t let the second missed penalty overwhelm them and they continued to battle on.
Gary Dempsey resumed the comeback with an impressive team score. Andrew Bolger intercepted a MLR pass and through Alan Kelly and JJ Smith the ball came to Dempsey who slotted it over. MLR almost doubled their lead when Chris Nolan attacked the Rathvilly goal but Robbie Molloy denied
MLR once more with an impressive save. Despite Rathvilly looking increasingly more dangerous in the early going of the second half, MLR still lead and on forty three minutes Rathvilly won a free. Brian Murphy’s effort ricocheted off the post and MLR took two attempts to successfully clear the danger but Rathvilly had to be wondering what they needed to do.
Brian Murphy stepped up on took advantage of some extended Rathvilly possession and added two points on the forty fifth and forty seventh minute to bring the deficit down to one. Gary Dempsey levelled the sides with eight minutes remaining and looked like the lead would come soon. What followed was an extremely tense finish which saw MLR reduced to 14 men and saw them spurn possessions with successive throw balls called by the referee.
As the clock ticked over sixty two minutes Gary Dempsey calmly stroked the ball over the bar and Rathvilly had completed the comeback to grab their second win of the campaign.
Robbie Molloy, Keith Curran, Conor O’Brien, Jeffrey O’ Donoghue, Andrew Bolger, Wayne O’ Donoghue, Colin Byrne, Ed Finnegan, Ken Doyle, Alan Kelly, Danny Molloy(i), Patrick Byrne, Brian Murphy( 0-4,1f), Gary Dempsey(0-4,2f), J.J. Smith SUBS: Darragh Donnolly, Andrew Sibbald, Robbie Ryan( in for JJ Smith 58 mins) , Diarmuid Cronin( in for P Byrne at half time) , Brian Smith( in for A Kelly 50 mins), Paul Curran, Conor Owens, Kevin McCall, Ger Kavanagh, Jeff Werth
Thomas Brennan, Padraig Bambrick, Padraig Nolan, Richard Coady, John Coady, Jack Murphy, Gary Kelly( 0-3), David Phelan, Edward Byrne(0-1, 1f), Paul Coady, Willie Hickey(1-0), Derek Byrne, Kevin McDonald, Denis Roche, Chris Nolan (0-1) SUBS: Conor Fenlon(in for P Nolan 54 mins), Ted Joyce( in for D Byrne 54 mins), Luke Roche, Michael Malone, Shane O’ Neill, James Kelly, Niall Lynam, Daniel Ryan, Dean Grennan, Brian Nolan