Mooncoin rolled the dice and played all the high numbers, and in the end they hit the jackpot when qualifying for the junior hurling final.
By the finish, subs wearing jerseys No. 12, 21, 22 and 27 came up with five points between them to help Mooncoin defeat valiant O’Loughlin Gaels in an absorbing semi-final in Nowlan Park on Sunday.
O’Loughlin produced a good team comprising of young and hungry talent with a few well walked performers, and the mix worked a treat as they got within four minutes of a win.
A foul on Ray Wall (No. 27) in the 56th minute earned fine free taker, Ethan Ryan the equaling point for Mooncoin, 3-11 to 1-17.
From there famous Mooncoin, who have 12 senior titles to their credit and who were relegated from the intermediate division last season, blasted for home.
Ray Wall (No. 27) pointed. Then Padraig Walsh (No. 21) scored. Seamus Kearns and Jamie McGrath combined for the latter to send the white flying for the last time.
During their strong closing barrage the winners produced their best hurling of the afternoon, against, it has to be admitted, very tired but still game opposition.
“We had to dig out that win,” insisted Mooncoin manager, Eamon Phelan, who won two Christy Ring Cup medals with London. “The lads showed great character. The goals hurt us, but they were all scores we could have prevented.
“The character was big, with our subs too. Every club speaks about their panel, but we have 28 or 29 lads who could make it. Our subs have been doing well all year.
“We made it hard on ourselves, and we could have lost it.”
O’Loughlin’s opened against the wind. They showed no fear and took the game to the opposition. There was never a lot in it.
The scores were level at 0-1 each; again in the 21st minute at 1-5 each after goals from the excellent Danny Lenihan (19th min) and Jamie McGrath (20th min), who has space created by Stephen Crowley at the end of a powerful run.
Half-time was reached with little decided. A 31st minute score from a 65 by Ethan Ryan gave Mooncoin the advantage, 1-10 to 2-6.
There was an exchange of scores after the turn before experienced hand, Alan Geoghegan read a breaking ball perfectly before picking off the equaliser (1-11 to 2-8).
Four times subsequently they were to be level, the last time in the 56th minute as stated above. O’Loughlin’s looked really threatening for a while after Danny Lenihan smashed home a goal chance created by a fearless run by Daniel O’Connor in the 48th minute to take them 3-10 to 1-14 ahead.
Mooncoin pulled back via points from subs, P.J. Rowe and Diarmuid Mackey (3-10 to 1-16). The gutsy Gaels hit the front again, via the excellent Danny Bolger. After Ryan squared the issue, Mooncoin found that extra bit that took them home.
Lucky? They made their own thanks to the perseverance of a class half-back line of Niall Mackey, Cormac Daly, Eoin Hennebry, Ethan Ryan, Keith Kirwan, Stephen Crowley and others.
SCORERS: Mooncoin - Ethan Ryan (0-6, two frees, one 65); James McGrath (1-2); Niall Mackey, Seamus Kearns, P.J. Rowe (0-2 each); David Kearns, Keith Kirwan, Kieran Dillon Dunphy, Ray Wall, Diarmuid Mackey, Padraig Walsh (0-1 each). O’Loughlin Gaels - Danny Lenihan (2-2); Alan Geoghegan (1-4, goal penalty, three points frees); Danny Bolger (0-3); Paddy Cantwell, Brian Dowling (0-1 each).
Mooncoin - Patrick Kinsella, Conor Brophy, Alan Walsh, Thomas Healy, Niall Mackey, Cormac Daly, Eoin Hennebry, Ethan Ryan, David Kearns, Seamus Kearns, Jamie McGrath, Cormac Fleming, Keith Kirwan, Stephen Crowley, Kieran Dillon Dunphy. Subs - Niall Blanchfield, P.J. Rowe, Ray Wall, Diarmuid Mackey, Padraig Walsh.
O’Loughlin Gaels - Billy Leydon, Huw Lawlor, Brian Murphy, Andy Cantwell, Andy Kearns, Rick Leydon, Padraig Meany, Martin Gibbons, Vinny Wallace, Alan Geoghegan, Paddy Cantwell, Daniel O’Connor, Danny Bolger, Brian Dowling, Danny Lenihan. Subs - John Doyle, Gary Bryan, Cian Loy.
Referee - Eugene Ryan (Fenians).