Despite being reduced to 14 men after 36 minutes in Fr Browne Avenue last Friday, Mountmellick put in a superb second-half display to win the Division 3 League title.
Hurling ACHL Division 3 Final
Michael Bermingham and James Hilliard were the stars of the show scoring 12 points between them while the defensive work was tenacious after the break keeping Rathdowney-Erill scoreless for 25 minutes of the second period.
Rathdowney-Erill did put in a late scoring spurt with Brian Bowe firing 1-2 in the last five minutes but it was too late to change the outcome of the game.
Rathdowney-Erill had chances to add to their total before the late burst but they were guilty of going for goals too early and Mountmellick produced some fine last ditch defending and some good saves from Eoghan Quigley.
There was little to chose between the sides in the opening stages and after 18 minutes they were level at six points apiece.
James Hilliard accounted for three of Mountmellick’s point and he was only denied a goal by a fine save from John Paul Ryan.
With the wind behind them, Rathdowney-Erill began to pull away with points from Brian Meehan (2) and three from Brian Bowe including a spectacular long range effort. They led by four approaching the break but a point apiece from Bermingham and Hilliard got Mountmellick back within two by the break.
With the wind behind them, Mountmellick were level within four minutes of the restart and even the sending off of Aidan Challoner for a second yellow card did not break their rhythm.
Michael Bermingham hit four points in a row, including a free from all of 90 metres, before James Hilliard put Ian Fennelly through and the corner-forward doubled on the ball to the back of the net to put his side 1-15 to 0-12 ahead.
Rathdowney-Erill did not score until the 25th minute of the second half when Brian Bowe drove the ball over the bar. He added another as the game ticked into injury-time and when the same player drilled home a penalty soon after, it looked as if Rathdowney-Erill were going to pull off a most unlikely comeback.
However the Mountmellick defence, which had been brilliantly marshalled by Keith Dunphy, kept their opponents at bay in the final minute of injury-time as they held on for a deserved win.
SCORERS - Mountmellick: Michael Bermingham 0-7 (0-4f); James Hilliard 0-5; Ian Fennelly 1-0; Donnacha Hartnett 0-1; Aidan Challoner 0-1f; Bernard Rochford 0-1. Rathdowney-Errill: Brian Bowe 1-6 (1-0 pen, 0-4f); Brian Meehan 0-2; Sean Delaney 0-2; Brendan Kelly 0-1; Colm Ryan 0-1; Colm Meehan 0-1
MOUNTMELLICK: Eoghan Quigley; Eddie Melia, Keith Dunphy, Laurence Kenny; Shane Conlon, Gearoid Treacy, Chris Hartnett; Seamus Stapleton, Michael Bermingham; Donnacha Hartnett, Aidan Challoner, Bernard Rochford; James Hilliard, Ray O’Connor, Ian Fennelly. Subs: Ian Delaney for Ray O’Connor (52mins), Ian Moore for Ian Fennelly (60mins)
RATHDOWNEY-ERRILL: John Paul Ryan; Sean Meehan, Patrick Meehan, Laurence Deegan; David Poynton, Mark Dunne, Kevin O’Dea; Brian Bowe, Colm Ryan; Colm Meehan, Sean Delaney, Shane Madden; Ray Kelly, Brian Meehan, Brendan Kelly. Subs: Matthew Meehan for Ray Kelly (40mins), Brian Delaney for Colm Ryan (51mins), Gregory Phelan for Kevin O’Dea (53mins)
Referee: Eoin Scully (Camross)