Mooncoin Mount Leinster!

Leinster Junior Hurling Championship Final

Mooncoin 1-16
Rathoath (Meath) 0-12

Mooncoin’s magnificent 2016 got the icing on the cake at Nowlan Park on Saturday last, when the green and white, managed by Joe Murphy, saw off a determined Rathoath to land the Leinster Junior Hurling crown.

Rounding off the club’s 130th anniversary in great style, Mooncoin are now just an hour away from an All-Ireland Final appearance, which would be a fitting reward for a club which has made such superb off-field progress in recent years.

Antrim’s Lámh Dhearg stand between the resurgent South Kilkenny men and a place in the Croker decider on February 18th, with the clubs scheduled to meet over the last weekend in January.

Mooncoin: 2016 Kilkenny and Leinster Junior Hurling Champions.

Mooncoin: 2016 Kilkenny and Leinster Junior Hurling Champions.

Unfortunately, especially from this newspapering parish’s perspective, the prospect of a Waterford/Kilkenny Junior face-off ended on Sunday last when Ballyduff Lower were edged out by five points by Cork’s Mayfield in an entertaining Munster Final played at Mallow.

In fine conditions on Saturday last, Mooncoin found the Meath Intermediate champions in determined mood in the initial stages, with Padraig O’Hanrahan (0-4), Ciaran Hanrahan and Gavin McGowan (0-2 each) and Bryan McMahon (0-1) all landing excellent first half points.

Eoin Doyle of AD Test Centre, the team’s main sponsor, presents Mooncoin GAA Club’s Joe Murphy, Eoin Doyle, Ethan Ryan, Thomas Healy and Shane Walsh with a set of jerseys.

Eoin Doyle of AD Test Centre, the team’s main sponsor, presents Mooncoin GAA Club’s Joe Murphy, Eoin Doyle, Ethan Ryan, Thomas Healy and Shane Walsh with a set of jerseys.

Mooncoin regained the lead (the sides were level six times in the first half) thanks to a brilliantly taken 23rd minute goal by Eamonn ‘Ducky’ Henebery, a box he’s been regularly ticking throughout the Championship.

Mooncoin were just a point up at half-time, but the complexion of the contest tilted in the Kilkenny men’s favour after the break.

Mooncoin were late re-emerging for the second half but clearly whatever was said at the interval had the desired outcome, with Joe Murphy’s substitutions all making a major impact.

Alan Walsh scored three points while other second half substitutes Paul Henebery and Keith Kirwan added a point a piece.

Ray Wall gave his all in the half-forward line, while in defence the evergreen Eoin Henebery and Niall Mackey, along with Cormac Daly, dominated their positions, which made it harder for Rathoath found it harder to get scores.

In fact, they added only three points to their half-time total, through Padraig O’Hanrahan (0-2) and Ben McGowan, while Bobby O’Brien saw a 46th minuye shot cannon off the bar, which would have reduced their arrears to two points had it gone goalward.

But due in no small part to the midfield pairing of Kevin Crowley and Cormac Fleming also got on top in the second half, Mooncoin had more than earned their victory, thus adding the provincial title to the county crown won against John Lockes (Callan) over the October Bank Holiday, a comprehensive 2-19 to 1-8 success.

Mooncoin skipper Ethan Ryan, with the assistance of the club’s number one supporter, Tomás Kinsella, lifted the Tom Ryall Cup, setting off another weekend of wild celebration on the banks of the Suir.

Mooncoin, whose Senior Championship record (12 titles in total) is bettered only by Ballyhale and Tullaroan, last won a County Junior title back in 1961, is a club proud of its record and reputation.

And up until 2013, the club’s ‘first’ team had operated in either the Senior or Intermediate grades, so to see the club moving in the right direction again is a welcome relief to those who’ve stayed committed to the cause in less laurel-earning times.

Donnacha Mackey, son of Mooncoin full-back Niall Mackey, pictured with the County JHC trophy.

Donnacha Mackey, son of Mooncoin full-back Niall Mackey, pictured with the County JHC trophy.

Back in the first round of the Kilkenny Championship, against Galmoy in a sodden Danesfort, Mooncoin rallied from a seven-point half-time deficit to outpace their opponents in the final quarter to win by 1-15 to 1-11.

The drama of an eventful campaign was cranked up a few notches during their 3-13 to 1-17 victory over Emeralds of Urlingford when John Fitzgerald, following up on a saved injury-time penalty (one of three awarded Mooncoin that day), drove the ball home to ensure a sensational win.

The county semi-final against Barrow Rangers (Paulstown) didn’t reach the same heights, as Mooncoin ground out a 1-12 to 0-11 win, before they took the County Final by storm, demolishing a John Lockes side which had been hotly tipped beforehand.

Six days later, Mooncoin saw off Louth champions Saint Fechins by 1-19 to 0-10 before a comfortable if hardly spectacular Leinster semi-final win over Westmeath champions St Oliver Plunketts by 2-11 to 1-7.

Mooncoin will take nothing for granted against Lámh Dhearg in January, but they’re surely cognisant of the fact that a great opportunity to reach an All-Ireland Final, a day out at Croke Park, is within their grasp Let’s hope the ball keeps rolling for the team skippered by Ethan Ryan.

Mooncoin: Eoin Purcell; Conor Brophy, Niall Mackey, Liam Hennebry; Cormac Daly, Eoin Henebery, Seamus Kearns; Cormac Fleming, Kevin Crowley; Sean Walsh, Sean Wall, Ray Wall; Michael Grace, Eamon Hennebry, Mark Fitzgerald.

Substitutes: Alan Walsh for Sean (HT), Paul Henebery for Mark Fitzgerald (39 mins), Keith Kirwan for Seamus Kearns (52 and David Kearns for Keith Crowley (55).

Scorers: Eamon Henebery (1-2), Kevin Crowley (0-5; 0-4f), Ray Wall (0-3; 0-1f); Alan Walsh (0-3), Cormac Daly, Keith Kirwan and Paul Henebery (0-1 each).

Mooncoin Management: Joe Murphy (Manager), Jimmy Holden, James Grace (Selectors), Maurice Flynn (Trainer), Nicola Fewer (Physio) and Tomás Kinsella.

Ratoath: Gearoid Crowley; Turlough O’Neill, Brian Murphy, Niall Murphy; Paddy Dowd, Dara Kelly, Conor Ward; Bobby O’Brien, Jack McGowan; Ben McGowan, Ciaran O’Hanrahan , Sean O’Hanrahan; Padraig O’Hanrahan, Gavin McGowan, Bryan McMahon.

Substitutes: Brian Farrelly for O’Neill (42 mins) and Neil O’Dowd for Ward (57).

Scorers: Padraig O’Hanrahan (0-6; 0-4f); Ciaran O’Hanrahan and Gavin McGowan (0-2 each), Ben McGowan and Bryan McMahon (0-1 each).

* With many thanks to Eoin Walsh, PRO of Mooncoin GAA Club.

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