MOUNT LEINSTER 0-18
At the final whistle the Loughgiel players sunk to their knees gutted to lose this All-Ireland Semi-Final in which they had started as favourites.
The TG4 cameras capturing the scenes as the players slumped down into the sodden surface at The Marshes in Newry.
But for the players of Mount Leinster from Carlow there was only joy.
A 55th-minute Denis Murphy point proved decisive as Mount Leinster Rangers booked their place in a first senior final with a 0-18 to 2-11 win over Loughgiel Shamrocks before 4,300 fans at Páirc Esler.
Paul Gillan and Eddie McCloskey pressed hard for Loughgiel scores in the dying minutes, and free-taker Liam Watson sent two efforts wide in the closing five minutes.
Loughgiel’s woes were compounded with the dismissal of Mark McFadden on a second yellow card in the second minute of injury-time.
Earlier, it was end-to-end stuff, with the sides level on four occasions and Mount Leinster Rangers showing no signs of nerves as they appeared in their first ever All-Ireland senior semi-final.
Eddie McCloskey opened Shamrocks’ account with a point after just 20 seconds, but Murphy equalised from his side’s first attack.
Shamrocks again took the lead, but scores from Padraig Nolan and Murphy handed Rangers a 0-03 to 0-02 lead after seven and a half minutes.
Scores from Shay Casey and Watson pushed Loughgiel 0-04 to 0-03 ahead, but following scores from Murphy and Eoin Doyle, Rangers moved ahead, and wouldn’t trail for the remainder of the game.
A fourth Murphy point pushed Rangers two points clear, with the Carlow outfit moving 0-10 to 0-06 ahead at the interval.
The anticipated Loughgiel revival never really materialised and an indication of the intent of Mount Leinster was posted when Murphy extended this lead to five points inside 35 seconds of the restart.
Although Loughgiel worked hard, Rangers never fell behind.
A 35th-minute Benny McCarry goal gave Loughgiel the lift they required, after McCarry made a fine catch from a high ball inside, and turned to plant the ball past Rangers keeper Frank Foley.
This score cut the gap to two points, but Murphy, captain David Phelan and Diarmuid Byrne kept Mount Leinster on top.
19-year-old Byrne claimed a fine point in the 51st minute to ensure a 0-16 to 1-10 lead, but Loughgiel were to breach the Mount Leinster defence soon after.
Watson used his experience to break down the ball inside and turn his man to smash the ball to the net and level the contest for the fifth time.
Rangers composed themselves with a point from Derek Byrne and although Watson equalised, Murphy edged Rangers back in front.
Loughgiel may have been the more experienced side, but luck failed to go their way. That, and some excellent defending in the closing stages, ensured Mount Leinster Rangers held out for a famous win.
MOUNT LEINSTER RANGERS:
F Foley; M Doyle, G Doyle, G Kelly; Diarmuid Byrne (0-01), R Coady, E Coady; Derek Byrne (0-01), P Nolan (0-1); P Coady, E Byrne, D Phelan (0-01); D Murphy (0-11, 7f), J Coady (0-01), E Doyle (0-02).
Subs: J Murphy for Nolan (48), HP O’Byrne for J Coady (56), W Hickey for E Doyle (58), J Hickey for E Coady (60).
D Quinn; P Gillan, N McGarry, R McCloskey; M Scullion, B McAuley, O McFadden; M McFadden (0-01), T McCloskey; J Scullion (0-01), D Laverty, E McCloskey (0-02); B McCarry (1-00), S Casey (0-01), L Watson (1-06, 3f). Subs: T Coyle for R McCloskey (25), J Campbell for Scullion (39), D McCloskey for J Scullion (59), M Connolly for T McCloskey (60).
REFEREE: Cathal McAllister (Cork)