MOUNT LEINSTER RANGERS 1-13 NA FIANNA (ARMAGH) 1-11
WHEN the national anthem ended a big roar went up. The All-ireland final was on and for the first five minutes the occasion seemed to get to the Carlow side. After two minutes Paddy Mcbride scored from the 45m line and exactly two minutes later Martin Maguire was through on goal and he had all the space in the world to finish past Foley.
Denis had a chance to settle some nerves from a free but unusually he struck narrowly wide. In the next play the Rangers came forward and Hugh Paddy tried to find Denis in the large rectangle but a free out was blown.
David Phelan found himself in possession close to the sideline 55m out and on the Hogan stand side he bisected the posts for a stunning point. It did settle the nerves, but the Carlow men were still feeling the pressure. Eddie Byrne had a chance but he struck wide and by the 12th minute Na Fianna had added two more points, this time through Martin Moan and a David Carvill free.
The DVD will be rewound and replayed over and over again from the 15th minute. How the human eye and hand could combine for the pass that Padraig Nolan sent to Eoin Doyle is baffling but he zipped it from inside his own half and Doyle admitted he didn't even have to move to take possession. He still had a job to do and his blessed hurley struck the ball through the legs of Padraig Moan in the Armagh goal.
Maguire responded well for Middletown with a fine point and this 100mph game was a quarter of the way through with the score 1-4 to 1-1. Denis found his mark from a free but Maguire hit back. Denis had truly found his range when he arrowed over a 65m free only for Carvill to also nick one from close range for Na Fianna.
The game changing moment was now due and when Brian Nolan failed to deal with the sliotar his opponent found himself through for a certain goal. Nolan had to take the man and he did. Referee Casey had no real option but to send the blonde full back off for the first time in his hurling career. David Carvill scored the close range free and then followed up with one from distance, until MLR full forward Denis Murphy stepped up twice to point frees and at half time MLR were three points behind 1-8 to 1-5 at half time.
Murphy pointed two frees early in the second half and this was a different MLR side. When James Hickey won another free that Denis was to convert, James and Willie Hickey punched the air with joy at the sides being level.
With ten minutes gone in the half Middletown finally got off the mark through Maguire but suddenly Eoin Doyle was again bearing down on goal but he used the head and kicked over the bar instead. The sides were level again but when 'Feathers' aka Eddie Byrne was moved into full forward he started to totally dominate.
He put them ahead for the first time with 46 minutes to go but a 50m Carvill free had them level again. Feathers was making a real nuisance of himself and after his goal was ruled out it gave the Carlow boys a huge lift.
Denis did the honours with a huge free next and with just over ten minutes to go Carlow were looking like they were about to do something special.
The northerners took off their free taker in a strange move as his replacement missed two easy ones to get back into the game,
Two minutes before he would be taken off to a massive reception Denis scored one more free and Rangers were on top of the world. It would have been lovely if his replacement Paul Coady could have pointed the last play of the game but he was unlucky, not that he cared as the final whistle blew and Mount Leinster Rangers were All-ireland champions.