THE OLD adage of goals win games was never more evident than this afternoon in the McGrath Park, Bagenalstown when Mount Leinster Rangers faced last year's beaten finalists Tinryland in a thrilling, sometimes fractious, contest.
The only goal of the game came in the dying seconds just as it seemed as if this encounter was to finish without one despite both sides having chances.
A long ball was kicked into Paul Broderick, who found himself unmarked inside the opposition's 14 yard line. The Ranger's number three, Pauraic Nolan, scrambled back and cut off the angle but Cormac Walshe was running through the middle screaming for the ball. Broderick obliged with a perfectly weighted pass and the fluent Irish speaker nearly burst the netting in MLR's goal as he blazed the ball past the helpless Thomas Brennan. The roar that greeted this score told you everything you needed to know. Tinryland were through.
Tinryland looked shell shocked by their oppositions quick start and were struggling to deal with the pace, athleticism and directness of the reigning all Ireland intermediate hurling champions, particularly around the middle third of the field where they were winning very little primary possession.
Slowly but surely Tinryland began to come more into the game. They scored three points in the closing stages of the first half to trail by 0-06 to 0-04. With a strong wind in their backs for the second half things could have been a lot worse.
Both sides rang the changes at half time. David Phelan and Jack Murphy made way for Gary Kelly and Eoin Doyle while Tinryland brought on Cian Moore and Robbie Power for Conor Byrne and Padraig Delaney.
The substitutions made an impact immediately. Eoin Doyle, only recently returned from his summer excursion in Boston, wasted no time in turning provider for Gary Kelly who kicked his first score of this year's championship.
Cian Moore began winning more possession in the middle of the field for Tinryland, an area where they had really struggled in the first half.
With Tinryland going man to man in the second half Rangers were no longer able to win easy possession and build from their half back line and they struggled for large portions of the second half. Tinryland were the dominant force in the second half and when they opened up a three point gap with 10 minutes of normal time remaining it looked as if they were home and hosed.
However Rangers never know when they are beaten and kicked three unanswered points to level things up deep in injury time. It wasn't to be however as Walshe scored that all important goal to ensure the Tinryland progress to the quarter finals.
Tinryland: Trevor O'Reilly, Padraig Delaney, John Paul Moore, Mark Dempsey, Danny Moran, Shane Redmond, Gary Morrissey, Keith Jackson, Conor Byrne, Glenn Doyle, Pauraic Townsend, Cormac Walshe, Paul Broderick, Evan Doyle, Niall Barrett.
Subs: Cian Moore (Byrne, HT), Robbie Power (Delaney, HT), Peter Doran (Dempsey, inj, 40 mins), Cian Lawlor (Moran, inj, 65 mins)
MLR: Thomas Brennan, John Coady, Pauraic Nolan, Colm Byrne, Brian Nolan, Willie Hickey, Eddie Coady, Denis Roche, David Phelan, Hugh Paddy O'Byrne, Richie Coady, Jack Murphy, Denis Murphy, Eddie Byrne, Derek Byrne.
Subs: Gary Kelly (Phelan, HT), Eoin Doyle (J Murphy, HT), Conor Fenlon (O'Byrne, 40 mins), Tadgh Brennan (Roche, 52 mins), Paul Coady (D Murphy).