AIB Leinster Club SHC: St Mullins win thriller
AIB Leinster Club SHC Semi-Final
ST MULLINS (CARLOW) 2-17 RATHDOWNEY-ERRILL (LAOIS) 1-19
By Paul Keane at Netwatch Cullen Park
James Doyle rose to the occasion superbly for St Mullins with two huge late points at Netwatch Cullen Park to send the Carlow men through to the AIB Leinster club hurling final.
The number 14, who played for the majority of the game at midfield, levelled a tight game for the ninth time in the 61st minute with a great score.
Then he took on the responsibility in the last minute of stoppage time with a great score off his left that proved to be the winner.
Rathdowney-Errill did have a last gasp chance to level it but captain Paddy Purcell held his head in his hands after firing wide.
Doyle scored 0-5 in total and played a huge role in his club becoming just the second Carlow side after Mount Leinster Rangers in 2013 to reach the provincial decider.
They will return to action in a fortnight as underdogs to play holders and All-Ireland champions Ballyhale Shamrocks.
It's back to back huge wins for Niall O'Donnell's outfit who previously took down the might of 2017 and 2018 All-Ireland winners Cuala.
That propelled them through to this last four clash against the Laois champions who had their own landmark quarter-final win over St Rynagh's, winning that one by 4-16 to 0-10.
They carried that momentum into this contest and while the sides were tied four times in an entertaining first-half it was Rathdowney-Errill that led for long spells and they took a 1-10 to 2-6 half-time lead.
Both of the St Mullins goals came after big scores from Rathdowney-Errill and had the effect of galvanising the Carlow men.
Their first came from Paddy Boland in the 11th minute just seconds after Purcell had scored a tremendous solo goal for Rathdowney-Errill.
Then in the 25th minute after a terrific long range score from Rathdowney-Errill's Jack Kelly, St Mullins responded with their second goal, this time from their top scorer Marty Kavanagh who dispatched superbly after a surging run.
St Mullins still trailed by a point at the interview but restarted with real energy to dominate the third quarter, outscoring Rathdowney-Errill by 0-6 to 0-3 in that 15-minute period.
Doyle and Kavanagh both scored braces of points during that blitzkrieg as St Mullins jumped onto the front foot and pressed hard for a famous win.
Rathdowney-Errill simply refused to die and the scores were level three times late on but when the need was greatest it was Doyle that stood up with those two huge points to edge a memorable encounter.
Scorers for St Mullins: Marty Kavanagh 1-9 (7fs), James Doyle 0-5, Paddy Boland 1-0, Seamus Murphy 0-2, Jason O'Neill 0-1.
Scorers for Rathdowney-Errill: Mark Kavanagh 0-12 (7 fs, 165), Paddy Purcell 1-1, James Ryan 0-1, Jack Kelly 0-1, Ross King 0-2, Paddy McCane 0-1, Shane Madden 0-1.
ST MULLINS: Kevin Kehoe; John Doran, Paul Doyle, Garry Bennett; Oisin Boland, Ger Coady, Chris Kavanagh; Mick Walsh, Jack Kavanagh; Seamus Murphy, Marty Kavanagh, Paddy Walsh; Jason O'Neill, James Doyle, Paddy Boland.
Subs: Philly Connors for Walsh (41).
RATHDOWNEY-ERRILL: Damian Madden; Brian Campion, Jimmy Corrigan, John Purcell; Joe Fitzpatrick, Jack Kelly, Eric Killeen; John Keane, Paddy Purcell; James Ryan, Shane Dollard, Mark Kavanagh; Paddy McCane, Ross King, Brandon McGinley.
Subs: Kevin O'Dea for Keane (41), Shane Madden for Dollard (46), Ray Bowe for McGinley (46).
REFEREE: Sean Cleere (Kilkenny).