Cormac Fleming in possession for Mooncoin
County finals always have the capacity to throw up the unexpected, and this junior hurling championship decider on Sunday was no exception.
Prior to the throw-in, John Lockes (Callan) were the fancied team to claim the title and a place in the intermediate ranks in 2017 that went with it.
They were the form team from the semi-finals, and had put in good performances right up to the final.
Mooncoin had a slightly quieter run up to the final, and got a really tough battle from Barrow Rangers (Paulstown) in the semi final.
However, that possibly turned out to be the perfect preparation for the biggest day of all - county final day.
Mooncoin were powerful, back to front, and they produced the equivalent of the dream performance on the way to winning their fifth title (2-19 to 1-8).
In scoring terms, the game started off at a slow pace. John Lockes opened their account with a point from Paddy Kennedy in the fifth minute.
This was answered quickly by Mooncoin’s Dermot Crowley. The Mooncoin attack were very lively, and easily turned over their opponents.
The second point by Cormac Fleming emphasised this. Fleming broke the defence and went on a menacing run before pointing.
The John Lockes attack was struggling to cope against quick, decisive markers and they were under pressure clearing their own lines and were pressurised into concessions.
Mooncoin were on a mission, and the serious intent in their game lasted the entire 60 minutes.
There was a controversial moment in the seventh minute when a point scored by John Fitzgerald was waved wide. While it may not have made a lot of difference at the end of the game, had the scoreline been tighter, it would have been a major talking point.
Mooncoin were motoring well at this stage, their forward line piling on the misery by shooting good points. Towering full-forward Eamon Hennebry, who was proving a nuisance both with his height and fetching ability, scored a fine goal in the 21st minute which really hurt John Lockes.
This was followed immediately by a point by Michael Grace.
The misery for John Lockes was piled on even more when Mooncoin goaled again in the 25th minute.
The game and title were racing away from John Lockes at an alarming rate.
Hats off to Mooncoin for this stunning performance. They were ravenous for the ball, overwhelmed their markers, found their men well and punished accordingly.
The half time score was Mooncoin 2-10, John Lockes 0-5.
There was no mystery. Mooncoin were going to be Kilkenny junior hurling champions of 2016.
John Lockes were out very early for the second half and one would have to admire their unified refusal to give up the cause.
However, an 11 point deficit was a mountain too high. The first goal they would have to tackle was trying to get their forwards into the game.
The better spread of scores was coming from Mooncoin, and they would end the game with seven different scorers.
From a team of Callan’s potential, particularly in attack, more was expected.
Their free taker, Ryan Bergin, was accurate as expected while Paddy Kennedy was a pillar of dependability.
Despite this, Mooncoin always seemed to be able to get scores easier. Points from Kevin Crowley, Cormac Fleming and Alan Walsh in the 36th minute kept the winners well clear.
Both team emptied their bench fully by the finish, but perhaps the most effective substitute on the day was Dan McCormack of John Lockes. He accumulated one goal and two points during his cameo, an impressive tally, though it is doubtful that this is much consolation to him when he was on the losing side.
Mooncoin continued to assert their dominance in a game that had been over as a contest midway through the first half.
Mooncoin looked a class act. They now move up into the intermediate grade where they will be a handful for anyone.
They now represent Kilkenny in the Leinster club junior championship.
SCORERS: Mooncoin - Kevin Crowley (0-7, seven frees); Eamon Hennebry (1-2); Michael Grace (1-1); Cormac Fleming (0-3); Keith Kirwan, Ray Wall (0-2 each); Alan Walsh, Mark Fitzgerald (0-1 each). John Lockes - Ryan Bergin (0-3, frees); Dan McCormack (1-2); Paddy Kennedy (0-3).
Mooncoin - Eoin Purcell; Niall Mackey, Conor Brophy, Liam Hennebry; Cormac Daly, Eoin Hennebry, Seamus Kearns; Ray Wall, Kevin Crowley; Paul Hennebry, Alan Walsh, Cormac Fleming; Michael Grace, Eamon Hennebry, John Fitzgerald. Subs - Keith Kirwan for P. Hennebry; Patrick Walsh for M. Grace; Sean Wall for R. Wall; Mark Fitzgerald for J. Fitzgerald, David Kearns for A. Walsh.
John Lockes - Ian Bourke; Bill McDowell, John O’Neill, Jack McDowell; Tony Delaney, Pat Power, Cathal McGrath; Ryan Bergin, Sean Power; Paddy Kennedy, James Power, Owen McGrath; Shane Bergin, Simon Bourke, Robert Kerwick. Subs - Dan McCormack for R. Kerwick; Brian Kirwan for P. Power; J.P. Corcoran for J. Power; Eoghan Scriven for B. McDowell; Cathal Byrne for R. Bergin.
Referee - Owen Kenny (Tullogher-Rosbercon).