Three goals by full-forward, Liam Walsh served as the main ingredient in the final analysis when discussing the merits, reasons, the whys and wherefores of this junior hurling league game in Mooncoin on Saturday.
Mooncoin gave a determined exhibition in what the meaning of winning was all about. Their defenders tackled with powerful determination, while their forwards worked well as a cohesive, focussed unit.
The spine of their team from Dick Mackey through Niall Madden, Steven Crowley and David Kearns at midfield, through Jamie McGrath and Walsh at full-forward were particularly impressive. McGrath, for instance, shot a goal within five minutes of the start.
Corner-forwards, Ethan Ryan and J.P. Purcell added points in the same time span, while midfielder David Kearns added his tuppence worth with a point as well. By the 7th minute, Mooncoin led by 1-4 to no scored.
However, three points by Paddy Raftice and Michael Jones eased the pressure on Mullinavat, and by the 22nd minute a further ease was afforded by another necklace of points by Raftice (2), Jones and John Reade, which brought them well within striking range of the winners.
Two minutes before the break they had hit the front by two, but a Jamie McGrath point and the first of Liam Walsh’s goals gave Mooncoin the initiative as they went to the dressing rooms, with the score reading, Mooncoin 2-7, Mullinavat 0-11.
The force would be with the team that wanted it badly enough. Mullinavat were to score a mere two points in the second half, and therein lays the reason why they didn’t go home winners. On the other hand, Mooncoin returned to the battlefield with a solid purpose, strong mental attitude, and a willingness to go the full nine yards.
Ethan Ryan was unerring from placed balls, while the likes of McGrath, Johnny Phelan, Liam Walsh, and JP. Purcell converted the majority of the chances that came their way. Mullinavat tried, but their spirit dissipated with every passing minute.
Certainly Mooncoin were the better team in the second half, and one wonders where the first-half Mullinavat team disappeared to in the second half.
Scorers: Mooncoin - Liam Walsh (3-0); Ethan Ryan (0-8, frees); Jamie McGrath (1-3); J.P. Purcell, David Kearns (0-2 each); Steven Crowley, Johnny Phelan (0-1 each): Niall Madden (0-1, free). Mullinavat - Michael Jones (0-4, three frees); Paddy Raftice (0-4, two frees); Michael Murphy (0-3, frees); John Reade (0-2).
Mooncoin - Eoin Purcell, Niall Blanchfield, Dick Mackey, Eoin Crowley, Shane Walsh, Niall Madden, Conor Brophy, David Kearns, Stephen Crowley, Tommy Healy, Jamie McGrath, Eric Wall, Ethan Ryan, Liam Walsh, J.P. Purcell. Subs - Johnny Phelan, Ian Dunphy, Eamon Hennebry.
Mullinavat - Paddy Jones, Brian Kenneally, Richard Raftice, Conor Duggan, Kevin Aylward, Gerard Anthony, Liam Murphy, Patrick Raftice, Brian Phelan, Joseph Gahan, Maurice Murphy, Pat Mulhern, John Reade, Michael Murphy, Micheal Jones. Subs - Ciaran Boyle, David Murphy, Brian Phelan.
Referee - John Kennedy (Shamrocks).