Celebration time for Mountmellick after their Laois JHC 'A' Final success. Pic: Denis Byrne.
Mountmellick hurling has been on the rise for the last couple of years, and that rise saw them claim the Junior hurling championship and promotion to the Intermediate ranks on Saturday evening.
Mick Bermingham and Donnchadh Hartnett came to the fore for them, as a dominant second half pushed them past Castletown.
Mick Bermingham scored the first of his ten points inside three minutes, knocking over a placed ball. A further three minutes passed, but Castletown did strike back. Ian Fennelly dropped a free short into Mountmellick goalkeeper Eoghan Quigley’s hands, but he was put under immense pressure, and over-carried. Kevin Conroy placed over the resulting free.
Mountmellick began to hit their stride after that, as Hartnett and Bermingham raised white flags to give them a 0-4 to 0-1 advantage. Kevin Conroy replied with a free for Castletown, before Mountmellick had the first sight at goal. Nigel Murphy played it into Donnchadh Hartnett’s path, who forced John Paul Bennett into a good save. Mick Bermingham flicked over the rebound.
Castletown brought the sides back onto level terms with three unanswered points of their own, as centre forward Martin Phelan showed what he can do. He fired over two points in a four minute spell, with Kevin Conroy also striking over a free in between.
Mountmellick went back in front thanks to Donnchadh Hartnett (free) and Redmond McEvoy points. Castletown’s James Mullaney, who plays his football with Mountmellick, showcased his blistering pace soon after, but couldn’t take advantage and shot straight at Eoghan Quigley in goals.
Conroy nailed a ’65, before Mullaney again had a goal chance. Barry Mangan broke clear of his man and fed Mullaney, but he couldn’t steady himself in time, and had to settle for a point.
Conroy put over another ’65 for Castletown, but Hartnett and Bermingham pointed for Mountmellick to give them the slenderest of leads at the break.
Castletown again came close to raising a green flag on the restart, but Ger Reddin’s shot thundered off the post and out to safety after a short free. John Richard Kingston came off the bench for the second half, and got Castletown back level three minutes after he came on. However, they’d only manage one more point, as Mountmellick took control.
Castletown’s keeper John Paul Bennett was in superb form all game, and he denied Mountmellick once again after he pulled off a spectacular save from a Cathal Flynn effort. Bermingham and Hartnett pushed Mountmellick back into the lead, and while the scoring was slow, they never looked like relinquishing that lead.
They came within inches of grabbing the first goal, as Donnchadh Hartnett sent a dangerous ball into the square, and Cathal Flynn’s flick was just cleared off the line. Hartnett sent over another score from a ways out, as Mountemellick held a four point advantage.
Substitute Seamus Lyons pointed Castletown’s last score of the match from a placed ball, as Mick Bermingham knocked over his sixth free of the game to extend the lead back out to four. They finally got the goal they deserved after, as John Connolly gave it to Nigel Murphy inside, and he finally beat John Paul Bennett in goals.
Bermingham ended the final with the last point, as Mountmellick ran out convincing winners.
Scorers: Mick Bermingham 0-10 (0-6 frees), Donnchadh Hartnett 0-4 (0-1 free), Nigel Murphy 1-0, Redmond McEvoy 0-1
Team: Eoghan Quigley; Ian Moore, Peter Dunne, Kevin Scott; Bernard Rochford, Ian Fennelly, Eddie Melia; John Connolly, Laurence Kenny; Barry Mangan, Redmond McEvoy, Nigel Murphy; Cathal Flynn, Donnchadh Hartnett, Mick Bermingham. Subs: Liam Crowley for Fennelly (half-time), Karl Donoher for Flynn (53 mins), Seamus Stapleton for Connolly (61 mins)
Scorers: Kevin Conroy 0-5 (0-3 frees, 0-2 ’65), Martin Phelan 0-2, James Mullaney, Seamus Lyons (free) and John Richard Kingston 0-1 each.
Team: John Paul Bennett; Brian Ferns, Damien Brophy, Adrian Dollard; Tadgh Dooley, Kevin Carroll, Michael Cuddy; Michael Butler, Loughlin Hegarty; Cathal Moore, Martin Phelan, James Mullaney; Kevin Conroy, Ger Reddin, Luke O’Grady. Subs: John Richard Kingston for Moore (half-time), Seamus Lyons for Conroy (45 mins, inj), Joe McCormack for Hegarty (53 mins), Ciaran Cuddy for O’Grady (57 mins)
Referee: Anthony Costigan (Rathdowney-Errill)