Mighty Muckalee earn first Leinster win

Muckalee 1-13

Muckalee 1-13

St Andrew’s 1-7

SCORERS: Muckalee - Colin McGrath (1-7, 1-0 pen, 0-3 frees); Mick Morrissey, John Mulhall, Robert Shore, Brian Byrne, John Maher, Luke Maher (0-1 each). St Andrew’s - John Doyle (1-0); Brian Murphy, John Miley (0-2 each); Andrew Beaton, Trevor Nolan, Peter Doyle (0-1 each).

HISTORY was made when Muckalee picked up their first ever Leinster club football championship with a breathtaking display against Carlow side St Andrew’s.

The Muckalee men were set to cause a big shock when they led the Bagenalstown outfit by ten points (1-12 to 0-5) with eight minutes to go in Carlow on Sunday. They could even afford to fade a little in the closing stages, having retained their county title just four days earlier.

The Kilkenny champions were never behind at any stage during the game. They took the lead after just 90 seconds when Shane Coonan’s quick free found Colin McGrath and he duly pointed.

Trevor Nolan responded with a fine point, but Mick Morrissey’s searing solo run ended with the wing-back grabbing himself a point before Peter Doyle levelled matters for the final time after eight minutes.

St Andrew’s had a chance to grab a goal soon after, but failed to make it count. They were left to rue that miss as the Muckalee defence set in motion the move that saw them take control of the game.

Working the ball up the field, Brian Byrne chipped a pass over the advancing full-back. His delivery was seized by McGrath, but before he could strike he was fouled on the edge of the square by goalkeeper Pa Cody. McGrath picked himself up, then coolly dispatched the spot kick to the bottom right hand corner to leave Muckalee three clear (1-2 to 0-2) at the end of the first quarter.

Instead of sitting on their lead the 9/1 underdogs began to attack their more vaunted opponents. Wave after wave of ball poured forward on the Carlow men, moves which resulted in four points for the energetic Colm McGrath. John Mulhall added to this lead with a fine point of his own, swinging the ball over the bar with the outside of his boot.

Andrew Beaton briefly lifted the siege with a pointed free but Muckalee had the last say of the half after John Maher finding Robert Shore in space. The centre-forward duly shot the point that left the Kilkenny champions eight ahead at the break (1-8 to 0-3).

Many neutrals would have expected the Carlow champions to come out with all guns blazing in the second half. Instead it was the complete opposite Muckalee again went on the offensive, John Maher pouncing on a poorly taken kick-out to grab the opening point. Maher then turned provider for Brian Byrne to slot another score and send the white flag waving.

The Muckalee defence, ably led by Ronan Maher, Mick Morrissey, Paddy Nolan and Aidan Murphy, absorbed an awful lot of pressure from St Andrew’s over the next ten minutes. The only reward the Carlow side gained was a pair of points from John Miley, one of which came via a free.

By the 48th minute Colin McGrath had Muckalee back scoring with a converted free. He duly helped himself to another point soon after before Brian Murphy pulled the deficit back into single figures (nine points) with two quickly taken points of his own.

Canice Maher went on a mazy solo run through the Bagenalstown side’s defence which ended with the young Luke Maher pointing.

As the game ticked on St Andrew’s did manage to pull a goal back through John Doyle. However, that proved to be the last score of game.

While the heroes of the day were feted there were words of praise for the hard-working players who laid the foundations.

“It’s a proud day for the parish of Muckalee,” said club chairman Larry Maher. “I’d like to pay tribute to all those men who struggled with us down the years. I hope those men would be proud of the magnificent achievement of our players today.

“Great credit for this victory must go to our manager Tom Cullen, selector Martin Dowd and to the players,” he added. “They battled and fought for everything to ensure victory.”

Muckalee will now face Skerries, the club of Dublin’s All-Ireland winning captain Bryan Cullen, in the next round. The game will be played at a Kilkenny venue.

Muckalee - John Coonan, James Maher, Ronan Maher, Aidan Murphy, Mick Morrissey, Paddy Nolan, Martin Dowling, Joe Maher, Paul Maher, John Mulhall, Robert Shore, Shane Coonan, Colin McGrath, Brian Byrne, John Maher. Subs: Canice Maher for Dowling, 15 mins; Tom Morrissey for S. Coonan, 42 mins; Luke Maher for Byrne, 54 mins.

St Andrew’s - Pa Cody, Cathal Cole, Johnny Corcoran, Phillip Manning, Alan Corcoran, Barry Lambe, David Cormack, Paddy Kavanagh, Morgan Drea, Trevor Nolan, Craig Doyle, Martin Cody, Peter Doyle, Andrew Beaton, John Miley. Subs: Brian Murphy for Cole, 31 mins; Brian Hourihane for Beaton, 31 mins; John Doyle for C. Doyle, 54 mins.

Referee - Niall Ward (Westmeath).