AFTER two years of heartbreak, Carrickshock finally knew what it felt like to be the intermediate hurling champions.
Beaten finalists in 2002 and 2003, the 'Shock lost both games by the slight margin of a single point. But, despite the weather at Nowlan Park on Sunday, it was their moment in the sun as they came out on the right side of the scoreline to beat Mooncoin.
Things looked a little gloomy for them at the start of the match, though. Playing with a significant breeze at their backs, it was no surprise to see Mooncoin make a fine scoring start.
The wind helped Thomas O'Hanlon put a free over from the halfway line after just four minutes. Michael Rice replied within seconds for Carrickshock, but they were quickly left behind by Mooncoin's first spell of pressure.
Mooncoin may have looked a little different wearing the maroon jerseys of their club sponsors – neither club wore their traditional green for the final – but there was no mistaking their strong play upfront.
Peter Ryan and Barry Purcell made life difficult for the 'Shock backs when a teasing ball dropped in front of the posts. Their pressure paid off when the sliotar fell kindly for Ryan, who drilled his shot across 'keeper Brendan Hoyne and into the far side of the net.
The lead was increased again thanks to a Diarmuid Mackey free, but a like score from Richie Power cancelled that out. Mooncoin responded in powerful fashion when Ray Wall put the sliotar over from 50 metres.
Opposing midfielder Shane Power pulled a minor score back following a telling handpass from Richie Power, but the 'Shock were left behind again as Mooncoin stepped up another gear.
Wall put four back between the teams with his second point of the afternoon, profiting after Gerry Kirwan showed great presence to deliver a handpass into space for the midfielder. Diarmuid Mackey added two frees in quick succession, stretching the lead to six just after the quarter hour.
Carrickshock came battling back into the game. A point apiece for Richie and Jamie Power brought them closer to their southern opponents. Billy Quinn pointed a swift reply for Mooncoin, but the 'Shock had the final say of the half.
Despite playing into the breeze, Richie Power's third free of the half ensured there was just four points between the teams at the interval (1-7 to 0-6).
The advantage of the wind didn't pay off as quickly as Carrickshock might have hoped when play resumed. There were just four points in the first 12 minutes after the break, scores which were split evenly between the teams.
A surging run from Shane Power opened Carrickshock's account for the new half, but Thomas O'Hanlon's 65 against the wind was Mooncoin's reply. Richie Power had a 65 soon after, but a Diarmuid Mackey free kept the leaders that bit further in front.
Slowly, the tide began to turn. James Moran won the ball on the 45m line, and a quick look at the posts gave him the angle to pick off a point. A foul on Jamie Power gave brother Richie the chance to bring the gap down to two points in the 44th minute, which is just what he did.
Diarmuid Mackey didn't waste time pushing the lead back up to three points, but the momentum was all Carrickshock's by then. Sub Michael Rohan lost his hurley, but kept possession long enough to find Pat Cleary, who centred for Michael Rice to point.
James Moran led the next attack, catching out the Mooncoin backs with an overhead handpass to Richie Power. A neat step to the left took him clear of his marker, giving him enough room to bring the gap down to one point.
Made their move
With five minutes left, Carrickshock made their move. A Jamie Power cut went deep into the Mooncoin area, where Richie Power was waiting at the near post. In one movement he caught the ball, turned and let fly at goal, but somehow his shot failed to make the net shake.
They may have thought their chance was gone, but Richie Power brought them level with one more free from close range.
As the final minutes flew by it seemed as if neither side could find the winning score. Both had chances, but with Carrickshock hitting three wides to Mooncoin's one it seemed as if a replay was beckoning.
That was until Carrickshock used their last throw of the dice. Centre-back John Dalton threw caution to the wind, breaking forward in an attempt to spur on his team-mates.
Breaking into Mooncoin territory, he found Michael Rice in space along the touchline in front of the Ollie Walsh Stand. Despite being off-balance Rice went for it, and saw his shot make it over the bar.
That was all Carrickshock needed to take the title.
Carrickshock – R. Power (0-7, 0-5 frees, 0-1 65); M. Rice (0-3); S. Power (0-2); J. Moran, J. Power (0-1 each). Mooncoin – D. Mackey (0-5, all frees); P. Ryan (1-0); T. O'Hanlon, R. Wall (0-2 each); B. Quinn (0-1).
Carrickshock – B. Hoyne, Martin Rohan, J. Tennyson, P. Barron, R. Frisby, J. Dalton, P. Dalton, S. Power, R. Power, J. Moran, P. Cleary, M. Rice, J. Power, J. Murphy, S. Gibbons. Subs: P. Farrell for P. Dalton, Michael Rohan for Gibbons.
Mooncoin – P. Kinsella, N. Delahunty, Eddie Mackey, A. Lennon, T. O'Hanlon, C. Dunphy, T, Murphy, B. Quinn, R. Wall, G. Kirwan, Eamonn Mackey, E. Henneberry, P. Ryan, B. Purcell, D. Mackey. Subs: N. Mackey for Quinn, J. McGrath for Purcell.
Referee – J. Guinan (Lisdowney).