THE 25th Lumsden Cup final in 2019 threw up something that hadn’t happened since the 2005 final between Kilcullen and Ballycane Celtic, two teams playing in their first final competing against each other.
Naas side Monread were the 2018 Senior Division champions but the defence of their title hadn’t gone to plan and it was actually their Lumsden Cup final opponents, Clonmullion, who pushed Suncroft all the way to the final game of the season in the title race.
Having been promoted from the Premier Division in 2018, Clonmullion wasted little time in settling into life in the top division and as well as their fine performance in the league they made it to the semi-final of the Lumsden Cup the hard way. They ended Suncroft’s hopes of a three in a row and also beat the 2018 beaten finalists Ballycane Celtic so they were strong favourites when pitted against Division 2 side Arlington in the last four. It turned out to be one of their toughest games of the season though and it was only a Nathan Robinson penalty in extra time that secured a 2-1 win and their place in the final.
On the other side of the draw, Monread went up against local rivals Naas Utd and Aram Vartanyan scored the only goal of a closely contested encounter to book their place in the final for the first time.
The final was back at Castle Villa’s Mullarney Park for the first time since 2015 after a late switch due to an unplayable pitch at Coill Dubh’s Cusack Park.
It was a game dominated by defenders. After goalscoring and penalty saving heroics for Castle Villa in previous finals Timmy Doyle was outstanding at the heart of the Clonmullion defence alongside Corey Moore. Their performance was all the more remarkable given it was their first time to play alongside each other in defence and they were only played together due to the unavailability of the first choice partnership of Shane Foley and David Neil.
At the other end, Alex Dunne and Keane Cully were in as equally fine form for Monread and over the course of the 90 minutes, chances were really at a premium.
Steven Donovan and Nathan Robinson both tested Monread’s Bryan O’Connell from long range in the first half.
Monread’s best efforts came in the second half, Olly Dunne clipped the crossbar from 35 yards, Dean Fennessy had the ball in the net but it was ruled out for offside and Vartanyan could only disappointingly hit the defensive wall from a free kick in a promising position.
Cody Mulhall could have snatched the game for Clonmullion with a snapshot from the edge of the box in the 80th minute but O’Connell did well to palm his shot away.
So, for the first time since 2002 the final finished scoreless after 90 minutes and for the first time since 2011 extra time was needed to decide the winner.
The early stages of extra time were once again extremely tightly contested but Clonmullion finally the breakthrough in the 95th minute.
Big players step up on big occasions and Cody Mulhall capped a sensational season by opening the scoring with a wickedly dipping shot from outside the area.
Monread could have got back level a couple of minutes later but Doyle crowned his performance with a magnificent tackle to deny Ryan O’Connor a certain goal.
It was a tackle that would have sealed his third Lumsden Cup final man of the match award but he was denied that in the final seconds of the game when Mulhall gleefully pounced after some hesitancy in the Monread defence and rounded O’Connell before tapping into the empty net. There wasn’t even time for Monread to kick off and the celebrations started in earnest at full time as the cup was on the way to Athy for the first time.
“It’s amazing to win it. We struggled I think in the first half. We weren’t really in the game but we hung in there. I think we came out on top in the second half and it was only a matter of time before we scored. We came here today with on objective and that was to win it, it didn’t matter who did it, whether we needed extra time or even penalties. We just wanted to win it and that’s what we did,” said matchwinner Mulhall after the game.
Timmy Doyle joined the select group of players with four Lumden Cup winners medals and joined former Castle Villa team mate Alan Proctor as the only player to play in four winning finals.
“I went into Clonmullion this year to play with Lee, who is my nephew, and was just lucky then. We lost out in the league but we have another cup final to come and I’m feeling rejuvenated now, really enjoying playing with the boys. They are stone mad but they’d die for one and other,” he said.
Clonmullion went on to show that battling spirit again later in the season when they scored a last gasp equaliser against Suncroft in the Senior Cup final before Mulhall was their extra time hero once again. In 2018, Suncroft became the first side to win the Lumsden Cup and the top flight divisional cup and just 12 months later Clonmullion matched that achievement with their own cup double.
CLONMULLION: Michael Lawless; Oisin Boylan, Corey Moore, Timmy Doyle, Ross Cardiff; Darren Harrison, Ricky Moriarty, Cody Mulhall, Nathan Robinson, Lee Doyle (Lee Foley 89); Steven Donovan.
MONREAD: Bryan O’Connell; Cillian Whelan (Ryan O’Connell 76), Alex Dunne, Keane Cully, Dave Carroll; Conor Woulfe (James Murphy 76), Dave McGrath (Mark Hammersley 76), Mick Aherne, Dean Fennessy, Aram Vartanyan; Conor Coady (Olly Dunne 24).
REFEREE: Niall Culleton.