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County Final Memory: Mountrath beat neighbours Trumera to claim intermediate hurling honours in 2001

Mountrath who defeated Trumera in the Intermediate Hurling Final at O'Moore Park in 2001. Photo: Alf Harvey.

Mountrath 1-12 Trumera 1-9
2001 Laois IHC Final

All across Laois there are different rivalries that come to the fore at different times.

In 2001, Mountrath and Trumera met in the Laois intermediate hurling final in a game that was of huge interest in that part of the county.

Trumera GAA club are one of Laois’s youngest clubs having only been founded in 1969. For many years prior to that players from Trumera lined out with Mountrath and when Mountrath won junior, intermediate and senior titles in the 1940s, among their players was the late Billy O’Neill, whose son Liam went on to become GAA president.

Billy’s grandson Ciaran O’Neill was in the Trumera colours on this occasion.

But the bragging rights on this occasion went to Mountrath. They had won the intermediate title in 1996 but by 2001 were back in the intermediate grade.

Mountrath topped the group with wins over Camross and Castletown’s second teams as well as Ballyfin and Abbeyleix. The only blemish on their record was a draw with Trumera.

In the semi-final, Mountrath were again too strong for Camross with Paul Meade the star on that occasion with a second-half hat-trick.

Trumera were further down in the same group, losing to Camross in the opening round but doing enough to reach the quarter-final.

There they drew with Portlaoise’s second team thanks to late points from Ger Coogan and Ciaran O’Neill. Portlaoise refused to play the replay and Trumera duly advanced to meet Shanahoe in the semi-final.

Again Trumera were forced to dig deep in a really tight game with Seamus Holland levelling late on, Shanahoe regaining the lead only for Coogan and O’Neill to point in injury time to ensure a one-point win for Trumera.

The final was again a cliff hanger. For Mountrath, top scorer Tomas ‘Mouse’ Russell was the hero, scoring eight points in total, including three late on to help his side over the line.

Ciaran O’Neill, Trumera and Eddie Kirwan, Mountrath challenge for this ball in the Intermediate Hurling Final at O’Moore Park in 2001. Photo: Alf Harvey.

As if the local derby element wasn’t enough, the sideline battle was an interesting one too with Laois heroes of the 1980s on opposite sides – Tom Flynn from Durrow in charge of Mountrath and Portlaoise’s John Taylor over Trumera.

“Rarely does a final live up to expectations but thankfully this was a welcome exception as all the pre-match hype and the prospects of a close encounter between the parish rivals brought a bumper attendance to O’Moore Park and they were certainly not disappointed,” wrote Jack Nolan in his report in the Laois Nationalist. 

Mountrath captain Anthony Russell gathers against Trumera in the Intermediate Hurling Final at O’Moore Park in 2001. Photo: Alf Harvey.

“While Joey Coogan was expected to be the top scorer he was matched on this occasion by Tommy Russell and they shared 16 of the points total between them.

“While Coogan kept his side in the game it was ‘Mouse’ Russell who was to be the match winner snatching the final three points of the game when the teams had been level with less than four minutes remaining.

“With the game in stalemate for almost 10 minutes after Coogan had shot six second half points to put his side on level terms ‘Mouse’ Russell pounced for a super point from an acute angle and followed with two injury time points for a three points victory for Mountrath over their country cousins.

Brian Hosey on the attack for Trumera against Mountrath in the Intermediate Hurling Final at O’Moore Park in 2001. Photo: Alf Harvey.

“Local derbies can often be nasty forgettable affairs but this was a real exception with the entire game played with the utmost sportsmanship and with not a blow struck in anger. Those who came to see anything other than a top class hurling match were disappointed.

“There are only three survivors from that Mountrath team still alive and one of them 83 year old Christy Burke was one of the first onto the pitch to congratulate the Mountrath heroes after the game. It was a sight to behold as he rejoiced in their success.

“Apart from Tommy Russell his three brothers Dan, Brian and team captain Anthony all played huge parts in the Mountrath success. But it was an overall team effort and a superior strength that just brought them through in a super final for the title.”

Trumera who went down to Mountrath in the Intermediate Hurling Final at O’Moore Park in 2001. Photo: Alf Harvey.

Mountrath were the dominant side in the opening half with a couple of brilliant saves from Diarmuid Hosey keeping Trumera in touch.

Mountrath raced into a 1-5 to no score lead early on, Paul Meade adding another goal to his championship tally by kicking to the net after Hosey had initially denied Jimmy Grehan.

Hosey denied Meade a second goal shortly later but Trumera soon got going with Seamus Holland gettting them off the mark and Ciaran O’Neill hitting the net with the rebound off a James Hyland save. At half time Mountrath led 1-7 to 1-3.

Joey Coogan was very much to the fore in the second half as Trumera battled back to draw level for the first time.

Mountrath captain Anthony Russell with the trophy after winning the Intermediate Hurling Final at O’Moore Park in 2001. Photo: Alf Harvey.

But Trumera couldn’t get their noses in front and ‘Mouse’ Russell hit three late points to break the deadlock.

“It was proud day for the Russell family as Declan accepted the Hetherington Cup after a superb final he was lavish in his praise of his defeated parishioners,” added Jack Nolan, who went on to add that a combined team from the clubs could be a serious force.

“Mountrath are back in the senior ranks where they surely belong but surely a parish team of these two excellent sides would make a serious impression in the higher ranks,” he wrote.

How the Laois Nationalist reported on Mountrath’s intermediate hurling success in 2001

In their own right, Mountrath reached a senior semi-final in 2004, the same year that Trumera won the intermediate title. They were also cruelly denied by eventual champions Clough-Ballacolla in the drawn senior quarter-final in 2009.

For Trumera, the 2004 intermediate success ended a run of final defeats in that grade. Having won the junior title in 1996, they lost intermediate finals in 1997, 1998, 2001 and 2003.

The club then played senior in 2005 and 2006 before dropping back down to intermediate and then junior which they won again in 2010. The grades have since been renamed with Trumera triumphant in 2015 and 2017 in the third tier intermediate grade.

SCORERS – Mountrath: Tom Russell 0-8, Dan Russell 0-3, Paul Meade 1-0, Kevin O’Keeffe 0-1. Trumera: Joey Coogan 0-8, Ciaran O’Neill 1-0, Seamus Holland 0-1

MOUNTRATH: James Hyland; Kieran Doheny, Michael Browne, Peadar Rice; Eddie Kirwan, Michael O’Brien, Liam Byrne; Brian Russell, Kevin O’Keeffe; Anthony Russell, Dan Russell, Dermot McMahon; Paul Meade, Tom Russell, Jimmy Grehan. Sub: Keith Fitzpatrick for McMahon

TRUMERA: Diarmuid Hosey; Fint Lalor, Ronan Kavanagh, Bosco Lalor; Paddy Coogan, John O’Connor, Dan O’Connor; Seamus Holland, Eddie O’Connor; Declan Callaghan, Fran Delaney, Damien Lalor; Ciaran O’Neill, Joey Coogan, Paddy Callaghan. Subs: Paul McSpadden for Delaney, Paddy Kirwan for B Lalor, B Lalor for D O’Connor, Cathal Brophy for D Lalor, Adrian Lalor for D Callaghan

REFEREE: Pat Delaney (Rathdowney)

SEE ALSO – Check out more from our County Final Memory series here