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Clinical Portumna deny fairytale for Mount Leinster

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Portumna captain Ollie Canning. Picture: Stephen McCarthy/SPORTSFILE

Portumna captain Ollie Canning. Picture: Stephen McCarthy/SPORTSFILE

Portumna captain Ollie Canning. Picture: Stephen McCarthy/SPORTSFILE

IN the conventional sense at least, Portumna's fourth AIB club All-Ireland hurling title wasn't the storybook conclusion to St Patrick's Day most had hoped for. But for Ollie Canning, it carried magical qualities.

"I don't know if you can ever surpass winning your first one, back in 2006," he said yesterday after the Galway side's 0-19 to 0-11 win in Croke Park over Mount Leinster Rangers, the Carlow club who had defied all expectation and tradition to qualify for the final.

"But it's very special. Especially when you've been away for a few years, and maybe written off in some quarters.

"But that's the way it goes. It's not unusual. For a team to contest three All-Ireland club finals and then not get out of their own club championship for the following three years, it is a bit of a decline.

"It's not unusual for people to say that the best years are behind this team. But that in itself is a certain amount of motivation for the players.

"So for us to win the county championship and then to contest the All-Ireland this year, it's fairy tale stuff for the club, which wasn't on the hurling scene until 2006 really."

Four All-Ireland titles in eight years.

It puts Portumna second on the all-time winners list, one behind Ballyhale Shamrocks and yesterday, they did it without reaching the peaks or the hurling highs of their previous successes.

Crucially, Canning, Damien Hayes and Kevin Hayes won their battles across the half-forward line, collectively taking Mount Leinster Rangers' strongest and most experienced unit for eight points from play.

Forever

"It's hard to put the year into words," reflected Mount Leinster manager, Tom Mullally afterwards.

"Really, it's one of those years that will live in the memory forever."

The way these days tend to go, Mount Leinster Rangers needed a start of the idyllic variety to stay close but never got it. They went 0-4 to 0-1 down in a match with plenty of fury and, predictably, Joe Canning punished each indiscretion with a total of eight frees and pair of smart points from play from midfield.

"We weren't worried," his brother Ollie insisted afterwards. "We looked at the opposition, maybe a week ago.

"We've seen them playing during the year as well. So we did look at them to a certain degree. But in the last week or week and a half, we just concentrated on our own game really. We felt if we worked hard enough that we'd have a great chance today."


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