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The Wedding Day….

Joe Nolan
August 15, 2023

Forgive me for using a little bit of poetic license as I think back over a lively county final from Sunday.

Saint Mullins had been the dominant and consistent force over the group games with MLR taking their time to find that level of consistency and performance that we have associated with them over a long number of years. And what a day to let it loose!

There is an old saying that on a bride’s wedding day she needs - something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue to have a perfect day.

MLR’s victory yesterday had aspects of this, and all were key in ensuring the toppled champions St. Mullins in a dominant display from start to finish.

Something “old” - In order to win championships, you need experience and leadership. And when best to produce it but on the big day.

Richie Cody and Eddie Byrne have been going to the well a long number of years for both club and county. Richie has been a model of consistency again this year be it in the middle of the field or back in the half back line and yesterday was no different.

Eddie had had a quiet year by his standards but came alive yesterday, catching some great ball and causing difficulties for the Saint Mullins rear guard. Michael Doyle’s reappearance after injury brought huge reassurance to the full back line along with being a consistent and dogged man marker.

Alongside these you had great experience on the panel with Paul Cody, Richard Kelly, and David Phelan no doubt setting a high tempo throughout the year. 

Something “new” - the young guns of MLR really came good yesterday on the biggest stage. Sean Joyce has been so consistent in the full back line and again produced an excellent display yesterday.

Evan Kealy was sprung from the bench to fill a half back roll after injuries to both Lawlor’s, and the county u20/Joe Mc Winner did v well against a potent St Mullins attack.

It was probably on the scoreboard that we saw the real impact of the “newer” MLR players. 2-6 was contributed by Fiachra Fitz (he looked like he’s always been there), Dean Tobin, Donagh Murphy and Ciaran Kavanagh.

They really stood up and nailed some of these when the saints were applying serious pressure and so they steadied the ship. Tim Brennan is another lad who has stepped up to the biggest stage this year and looks like another lad with a bright future. 

Something “borrowed” - Frank Foley was “borrowed” from the management team and probably yesterday had one of his finest hours in a Rangers jersey. His pinpoint puck outs, especially in the first quarter, were the platform for so many attacks and scores. 

Steadying the ship especially at the start of the game was huge for MLR and it gave them an out ball every time. Aside from the puck outs, he made excellent saves in the game and was assured under the dropping ball.

In the modern game your goalie is so important, and Frank set the tone for the rest of the lads for the day.

Something “blue” - again I may use some poetic license here! They say to turn the air blue you may raise your voice use some expletives and maybe get angry with the world!

MLR certainly set a real aggressive and dominant tone in all that they did yesterday. From the start we saw a colossal energy and they laid down markers all around the pitch and more importantly on the scoreboard.

In a game like this where you need that edge, who better to lead you than Diarmuid Byrne, a rock on the edge of the square.

Jon Nolan was immense at midfield as he picked up one of the players of this year's championship James Doyle – hammer the hammer.

Nolan’s hooking and blocking were relentless throughout, particularly two memorable ones in the second half when scores were on.

His brother Chris was playing with a pomp and confidence and giving a huge platform of attack for the rest of the Rangers forwards.

Kevin Mc was again masterful at 6 and made many big tackles and hits aside from the accomplished hurling we have become accustomed to.

MLR were not for turning yesterday and while the club has been accustomed to winning this one seemed to be extra special as was evident when Nolan punched the air towards the crowd in the stand after he nailed his last score. 

And so, onto day 2 and day 3 of the wedding…….!