Mountmellick 1-22 Mountrath 1-17
Laois IHC Group B Round 3
Donnchadh Hartnett’s haul of 1-9 was the difference as Mountmellick maintained their Intermediate hurling status for another year.
In a dramatic encounter in the Centre of Excellence tonight, Mountrath came out on the losing side and now face the losers of Clonad and Park-Ratheniska-Timahoe in the relegation final in two weeks’ time.
After suffering relegation from the Premier Intermediate grade last year, they are now at risk of dropping down another level.
It didn’t look that way with ten minutes to play when Gavin Sydes struck for a goal that put Mountrath ahead and they led from there until Hartnett’s goal in the 59th minute.
The game began even enough with both sides trading scores before Redmond McEvoy and Hartnett ended the first quarter with points to put Mountmellick 0-7 to 0-4 ahead at the first water break.
Mountrath came back at them in the resumption and actually finished the half with seven different scorers.
However, Mick Bermingham, Nigel Murphy and Barry Mangan all joined Hartnett and McEvoy on the scoreboard for Mountmellick to leave them 0-12 to 0-9 ahead at half time.
Mountrath introduced Luke Cusack at half time and he scored twice soon after to drag Mountrath back into the game.
Finn Culliton and Hartnett responded for Mountmellick but Mountrath hit a purple patch as Jake Walsh, Gavin Sydes, Cusack all pointed from play before a Walsh free gave them the lead.
Hartnett replied with a long range free to tie the game 0-15 apiece at the second water break.
Hartnett briefly regained the advantage for Mountmellick on the restart but Mountrath soon struck the front when Paul Rice’s shot was batted down by Mountmellick keeper Laurence Kenny only for Gavin Sydes to collect and smash home the loose ball.
Redmond McEvoy and Paul Rice then traded efforts before Mountmellick sprung the evergreen Bernard Rochford from the bench and he made an instant impact.
The veteran forced a great save from Mountrath keeper Scott Hetherington before firing over a point – and then flicking a long range Hartnett free over the bar to cut the deficit to one.
And in the final minute of time, another long range Hartnett free dropped short but this time it sailed over everyone and landed in the back of the Mountrath net.
Mountmellick had their tails up now with subs Kevin Dunphy and Tadgh Culliton getting in on the scoring act while Redmond McEvoy took his tally to five on the night.
Mountrath were shell-shocked and went in search of goals to get them back into the game but they didn’t come.
Mountmellick can now focus solely on football for the remainder of the year while Mountrath have one last big battle to come.
SCORERS – Mountmellick: Donnchadh Hartnett 1-9 (1-8 frees, one 65), Redmond McEvoy 0-5, Bernard Rochford 0-2, Mick Bermingham, Nigel Murphy, Barry Mangan, Tadhg Culliton and Kevin Dunphy 0-1 each Mountrath: Gavin Sydes 1-3 (one free), Jake Walsh 0-4 (three frees), Luke Cusack and Paul Rice 0-3 each, Michael Meade 0-2, Jimmy Hyland (free) and James Tobin 0-1 each
MOUNTMELLICK: Laurence Kenny; David Fennelly, Peter Dunne, Ian Fennelly; Jarlath Connolly, Mick Bermingham, Donnchadh Hartnett; Redmond McEvoy, Nigel Murphy; John Connolly, Barry Mangan, Finn Culliton; Sean Mangan, Chris Hartnett, James Hilliard. Subs: Kevin Dunphy for Hilliard (33), Bernard Rochford for C Hartnett (50), Tadhg Culliton for S Mangan (57)
MOUNTRATH: Scott Hetherington; Shaun Moore, Paul Meade, Matthew Rice; James Tobin, Jimmy Hyland, Tommy Hill; Jack Larkin, Glen Tobin; Gavin Sydes, Micheal Meade, Paul Rice; Michael O’Brien, Jake Walsh, Killian Kirwan. Subs: Luke Cusack for O’Brien (ht), Tom Kirwan for K Kirwan (43)
REFEREE: Anthony Stapleton (Rathdowney-Errill)