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Sunday 20 April 2014

Wonderful run comes to an end

Rangers beaten by Offaly champs

KILCORMAC-KILLOUGHEY 1-11 MOUNT LEINSTER RANGERS 0-09

IT'S NOT clutching at straws to say that if only it had been a fine dry day the Rangers could have turned the result around.

Twice they were goal bound only to be denied by a slip or a sticky ball in what must have been a swap of a pitch.

That's not a negative on the surface of Dr. Cullen Park which in November, looked absolutely fantastic, but the shower that poured down during the first half was worthy of Noah and his Ark.

What a journey it's been for the Rangers, unbeaten since the first round of the Carlow championship in 2011 and AllIreland intermediate hurling champions, it had to come to an end at some point and sadly for the men in red and black Sunday saw the end of the road.

The players will say they didn't want a break; that Senior Leinster glory was what they sought but they have earned a break and can finally enjoy a Christmas. They are still Carlow county champions and that is something the other hurling clubs in Carlow would do anything to be.

There were four outstanding moments in the first half that all centred around the Rangers and the fact the side were level at the break tells you how close an affair this game was.

The first golden moment was a sideline cut form Edward Coady just under the stand between the 21m and 45m lines. It was an epic strike that has scarcely been seen since one James Hickey retired. Add in the spilling rain, the wet sliotar and a few hundred Kilcormac suppoeters jeering and praying for him to slip, it was a truly magnificent score.

The next two special moments happened in the same period. Richard Coady delivered one of the best shoulder charges ever seen in Dr. Cullen Park, and the smack off of it was thought to be thunder to the people in Borris who hadn't travelled to the match.

A moment later Richard Kelly caught a clearance from an Offaly man and sent it straight over the bar from inside his own half, it lifted the home crowd, stunned the visitors and with the conditions the way they were, it was a brilliant score.

The final golden moment belongs to Eoin Doyle. A long ball was delivered towards him and Denis Murphy who were lurking around the small square but they were being marked by bigger and more imposing men. Catching the sliotar and then trying to score would have been impossible and so Doyle had brilliant presence of mind to flick the ball over his head and the bar without catching, it was simply brilliant.

It was tit for tat in the opening half with the lead changing hands seven times 33 minutes and the Carlow side looked at home at senior level.

Kilcormac were very reliant on their free taker Ciaran Slevin, their first score came from James Gorman but all the rest, that's 1-10, came from the stick of Slevin, mainly from frees. At half time the sides were tied at 7-7 and it was impossible to see where a winner was going to come from.

Only seven scores would materialise between both sides in the second half and had Kilcormac not scored a sloppy goal who knows what could have happened. Slevin got on the end of a goal mouth scramble to give his side an undeserved four point lead in the 37th minute and then neither side would score for 15 minutes and it seemed to deflate Rangers especially when Eoin Doyle was sent off on a second yellow card.

Denis Murphy got their last score from a free but only two second half points did not represent how well Rangers played and what could have been.

The referee wasn't to blame for their loss but he certainly gave the Offaly champions the benefit of the doubt when it came to 50:50 calls.

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