Mullahoran bounced back to senior ranks at the first time of asking with a sensational closing quarter performance against Cuchulainns in today’s intermediate championship final at the newly re-opened Kingspan Breffni.
Niall Lynch’s side started well in a cagey first-half and were two points up after a free from Evan Doughty and a point from play by Ruairi O’Connell.
However, Mullahoran always seemed able to to respond whenever the Cross/Mullagh men fired over a score and that was a pattern which in evidence throughout the opening half hour.
A point from ‘Man of the Match’ Cormac O’Reilly in the 15th minute got the Dreadnoughts up and running and they tied the game with a free from Enda O’Reilly.
Conor Smith replied before Enda O’Reilly added another free. Next to register was Eugene Keating with a free from 60 metres but again Mullahoran hit back, this time defender Matthew Hynes firing over.
Cuchulainns had lots of possession at this stage but nine first-half wides hindered their chances and they ended up going in at the interval down by two, 0-6 to 0-4, after a long-range Cormac O’Reilly free from the deck and an excellent Shane Sheils effort off the left.
The third quarter was nip and tuck, just like the first half. From the throw-in, Keating pointed but veteran Philip Brady showed all of his experience to reply quickly at the other end.
Enda O’Reilly (free) and youngster Eoghan Donoghue exchanged scores and although Enda O’Reilly flung over a screamer from long distance, Cuchulainns’s response was super, Keating slotting over.
And when Keating landed a free with 14 minutes of normal time remaining, it was a one-point game (0-9 to 0-8) and the Tommy Gilroy Cup was very much up for grabs.
Mullahoran, though, had other ideas. Gavin Brady curled in a brilliant point and then Philip Brady used his strength to hold off a defender and plant a cool soccer-style finish to the net to put clear daylight between the teams at 1-10 to 0-8.
From there, there was no looking back for Seanie Smith’s men.
Two Cormac O’Reilly points (one free, one from play from a tight angle) extended their lead and before Cuchulainns knew it, Mullahoran were out of sight.
Superb points from Philip Brady, teenager Gavin Brady and Sean McKeogh extended their lead, Enda O’Reilly tacked on another free and 18-year-old Cormac O’Reilly (who would still be eligible for the ‘old’ minor grade) completed the scoring with an emphatically-finished goal to the roof of the net.
So, 40 years after their last intermediate title and six years since their last senior success, the famed Mullahoran are back at the top table.
Mullahoran: Sean Briody; Callum Mussi, Tadhg McGahern, Paul Brady; Cian O’Reilly, Matthew Hynes (0-1), Colm O’Reilly; Killian Brady, Gavin Brady (0-2); Shane Sheils (0-1), Enda O’Reilly (0-5, 4f), Sean McKeogh (0-1); Raymond Lynch, Philip Brady (1-2), Cormac O’Reilly (1-4, 2f). Subs: Daniel Smith for C O’Reilly (temp, 42 mins), Peter Paul Galligan for Sheils (46), Fionan O’Reilly for McKeogh (58), Patrick Brady for Philip Brady (58), D Smith for Cian O’Reilly (60), Kevin Fitzsimons for Paul Brady (60), Barry McArdle for Gavin Brady (60).
Cuchulainns: Gary Daly; Killian Lynch, Aoghán Daly, Jamie Fitzgerald; Christopher Tully, Donnacha Dunne, Ruairi O’Connell (0-1); Adrian Taite, Bryan Magee; Eoghan Donoghue (0-1), Eugene Keating (0-4, 2f), Conor Flanagan; Evan Doughty (0-1f), Conor Smith (0-1), Adam O’Reilly. Subs: Conor Daly for Doughty (29 mins), David Carolan for O’Reilly (46), Seamus Clarke for Taite (inj, 52), John Flanagan for O’Connell (58)
Ref: Maggie Farrelly (Laragh United)