St. Mullins 2-14
Bagenalstown Gaels 1-11
St. Mullins proved too strong for an outstanding Bagenalstown Gaels as their quality eventually saw them advance to the Carlow SHC final with a six-point victory on Sunday in Netwatch Cullen Park.
There was drama from the off at Netwatch Cullen Park as Craig Doyle looked to have scored an early goal for Bagenalstown Gaels, but the umpires concluded that the ball did not cross the line from Doyle’s goal attempt. Despite the protestations of Bagenalstown’s players, supporters and management alike, the game remained scoreless early on.
James Doyle did open the scoring for Gaels with a fine score from distance, but Marty Kavanagh replied with two frees in the 3rd and 13th minute to move St. Mullins into the lead for the first time. Craig Doyle, who finished with 2-10 in Bagenalstown’s recent clash with Naomh Eoin, opened his account for the day soon after Kavanagh’s second point with a ’65 that Doyle expertly dispatched.
St. Mullins took the lead with the last action before the first half water break as Conor Kehoe finished a well worked move to leave the scoreboard reading 0-03 to 0-02 midway through a low scoring first half.
Kehoe continued from where he left off as play resumed when he scored his second of the game to double St. Mullins’ early lead. Two Doyle frees for Bagenalstown Gaels drew them level once more in a game that was dominated by two strong defences throughout a tentative first half.
St. Mullins were wasteful in the opening 30 minutes hitting six wides compared to Bagenalstown’s three as Gaels were far more efficient with their scoring opportunities than their opponents.
Sharpshooter Doyle got his fourth of the day from a free in front of the posts to give Bagenalstown a 0-05 to 0-04 lead as an entertaining but unusually low-scoring first half moved closer towards its conclusion. Doyle added another from a similar position soon after as both teams became more and more reliant on frees to add to their respective totals.
Kavanagh ended St. Mullins’ scoring drought on the cusp of half time with a long-distance free but that was quickly responded to by Bagenalstown Gaels through a sixth Doyle free as they took a 0-07 to 0-05 lead into half time.
John Doran opened the scoring for St. Mullins with a perfectly executed effort from outside Bagenalstown’s ’45 and their quick start continued when Kavanagh tapped over his fourth free of the game to level proceedings once more, 0-07 to 0-07.
Gaels got off the mark six minutes into the second half when Jack McCullagh got a fine score for his first point of the game. A Kavanagh free levelled it up immediately after McCullagh’s effort.
The in-form Andrew Kane restored Bagenalstown’s lead with the score of the game, but talisman Kavanagh once again drew the sides level with his first score from play 10 minutes into a second half full of commitment and intensity from both sides that was more open than the preceding 30 minutes.
Level at 0-09 to 0-09, the key moment came when a contentious penalty was given to St. Mullins for a foul in the large rectangle. While there were serious question marks around the validity of the penalty, there was no debate about what the classy Marty Kavanagh would do with such an opportunity as he struck low and hard to score the first goal of the game and give his side a crucial three-point lead at the second half water break.
Jake Doyle made it a two-point game with an excellent score to begin the final quarter. However, that was quickly cancelled out with an easy free for the talented Marty Kavanagh who extended his individual tally to 1-07.
Kavanagh notched on another free as St. Mullins moved four ahead and 1-06 to 0-03 ahead in a second half dominated by St. Mullins. They continued to build on their momentum as substitute Paddy Boland added a point and a quick-fire goal as St. Mullins moved 2-12 to 0-10 ahead with less than 10 minutes of a pulsating tie left to play.
Kavanagh’s quality proved crucial as St. Mullins maintained their scoring spree through the ever-consistent free-taking of the potent forward as he increased his own score for the afternoon to 1-09. However, Bagenalstown were given a lifeline when Jake Doyle scrambled the ball into the back of the net after a rebound to reduce the deficit to six points, 2-13 to 1-10.
Paddy Boland split the posts with another late effort to move St. Mullins 2-14 to 1-11 ahead and that was the final score as St. Mullins advance to the final against either Naomh Eoin or Mount Leinster Rangers as they eventually saw off a spirited Bagenalstown Gaels side.