Mellows secure status
Top Oil Intermediate 'A' Hurling Championship: Liam Mellows 3-15 Rathnure 0-14
Liam Mellows saved their best performance of the season for when they needed it most as two late goals from Conor Carty helped fend off a determined comeback from Rathnure in Sunday afternoon's enjoyable Top Oil Intermediate A hurling championship relegation final play at Farmleigh Park.
Frankly, had the Blackstairs Men managed to get something out of the game, it would have been an injustice to Mellows, who hurled with a notable zip and confidence throughout.
Those traits weren't always apparent earlier on in the campaign, and having secured a 3-15 to 0-14 victory, they will take time during the winter to re-assess and come back stronger next year.
A couple of belters from Richard Farrell were among the highlights of the first half from the victors' perspective, while placed-balls here and there from Colin Kennedy and Eoin Cullen meant they were ahead at the break in relative comfort by 0-10 to 0-6.
That gap may have been all the more substantial though but for the heroics of Rathnure's netminder Sean Nolan, who produced two unlikely saves from Cullen and Joe Gardiner in quick succession in the 25th minute.
But Mellows really enhanced their survival hopes on 34 minutes when a fine catch from Mark Halpin paved the way for Ross Cody to gather and flash beyond the near post for a 1-10 to 0-7 advantage. Central defensive pivots Shane Barron and Teddy O'Connor shared the bulk of Rathnure's scoring, but a fine effort from distance by Sean O'Neill had edged them to within 1-12 to 0-13 with eight minutes remaining.
However, Liam Mellows refused to panic as Farrell found Carty at the edge of the square, and the county footballer drove to the roof of the net on 55 minutes, before he condemned Rathnure to the drop three minutes later with his second green-flag after been supplied by Cullen.
Liam Mellows: Darragh Murphy; Frank Roche, Conor Cleary, Risteard Kinsella; Aaron Condren, Danny Gardiner, Mark Halpin (0-1); Colin Kennedy (0-4, two frees, two 65's), Andy Merrigan (capt); Stephen Moloney, Richard Farrell (0-3), Joe Gardiner (0-1); Conor Carty (2-0), Eoin Cullen (0-2 frees), Ross Cody (1-2). Subs: Gavin Stamp (0-2) for Merrigan, Colm Morris for Kennedy, Rory Heffernan for Moloney.
Rathnure: Sean Nolan; Mick O'Leary, Shane Barron (0-5 frees), Aodhan Foley; Thomas Furlong, Teddy O'Connor (0-4, one free), Alan Ronan (capt); Shane Murphy (0-2), Michael Martin; Paul Murphy, Sean O'Neill (0-1), Fran Murphy (0-1); Patrick Flynn, Kyle Byrne (0-1), James Flynn. Subs: Eoin Byrne for K.Byrne, Ciaran Donnellan for P. Murphy, Liam Barron for P. Flynn
Referee: Paddy Brady (Ballygarrett).