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Dublin: 3 °C Wednesday 11 December, 2019
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53 scores and 90 minutes of action as Ballygunner defeat Ballyea in Munster club hurling thriller

A Munster final against Limerick champion Na Piarsaigh now beckons for Ballygunner.

Ballygunner 2-26
Ballyea 2-23

Eoin Brennan reports from Walsh Park

IT HAD TO take 90 minutes for Ballygunner to finally prevail over a never-say-die Ballyea and set up a third Munster senior club hurling final against Limerick’s Na Piarsaigh in fours years in Walsh Park this afternoon.

Philip Mahony celebrates scoring a goal Philip Mahony celebrates his late goal in normal time for Ballygunner. Source: Ken Sutton/INPHO

In a thrilling roller-coaster ride that could have swung either way, the five-in-a-row Waterford champions never looked back from a last gasp equalising goal from Philip Mahony that would force extra-time.

So while Niall Deasy did his utmost to keep Ballyea afloat including a saving point from a  ’65 in the 83rd minute to ensure another ten minutes of action, Ballygunner ultimately demonstrated the greater strength-in-depth to grab the last three points through top-scorer Pauric Mahony and substitutes Barry O’Sullivan and Conor Sheahan.

Without half over their 2016 Munster winning side, Ballyea fought valiantly throughout but despite a handsome 2-10 haul from Deasy, including sucker-punch goals at the end of either half, and all of his side’s six points in the 30 minutes of extra-time, the Clare champions would eventually have to concede second best to a character-filled Ballygunner who had to use all their vast experience at this level to inch over the line.

JJ Hutchinson celebrates at the final whistle Ballygunner's JJ Hutchinson celebrates at the final whistle. Source: Ken Sutton/INPHO

Six points from Pauric Mahony opened up a 0-7 to 0-4 advantage by the 18th minute before being rocked back on their heels over the next ten minutes as Ballyea grabbed the next five to move two clear.

A Deasy solo goal only copper-fastened Ballyea’s growing dominance to lead by 1-9 to 0-9 by the break, a margin that would be doubled by the 40th minute as the leadership of Tony Kelly, Martin O’Leary and Gary Brennan all yielded scores.

Ballygunner’s lively target man Conor Power would virtually turn the tie on its head with a 1-2 haul in three minutes, enough for Pauric Mahony to add four more as the hosts wrestled back control at 1-17 to 1-15 entering the final five minutes.

However, inevitably it was Deasy who would provide Ballyea with a golden opportunity to protect their perfect Munster record as his 57th minute flicked goal allied to points from O’Leary and Pearse Lillis put the 2016 winners into a three-point lead in injury-time.

Niall Deasy and Barry Coughlan Niall Deasy was inspirational today for Ballyea. Source: Ken Sutton/INPHO

Ballygunner refused to panic though and after a Shane O’Sullivan free from halfway was ushered out to the left corner, Conor Power would issue a teasing delivery across the square that Philip Mahony batted to the net to ensure extra-time.

Philip Mahony flicks the ball into the goal in injury time Philip Mahony rises to flick home a goal for Ballygunner. Source: Ken Sutton/INPHO

Twice Deasy edged his side back in front in the opening half of the additional periods but he would have to convert a last gasp ’65 just to prolong Ballyea’s journey for a second helping of extra-time.

It would be in vain however as with little left in the tank, Ballyea would be overtaken by a Barry O’Sullivan point in the first half before subsequent efforts from Mahony and Conor Sheahan completed a famous Ballygunner victory.

Scorers for Ballygunner: Pauric Mahony 0-14 (8f); Conor Power 1-2; Philip Mahony 1-0; Brian O’Sullivan 0-3; Barry O’Sullivan 0-2; Billy O’Keeffe, Ian Kenny, JJ Hutchinson, Peter Hogan, Conor Sheahan 0-1 each

Scorers for Ballyea: Niall Deasy 2-10 (5f, 1’65); Martin O’Leary 0-4; Tony Kelly (1 sideline) 0-3; Tadhg Lynch, Gary Brennan, Pearse Lillis 0-2 each

Ballygunner

1. Stephen O’Keeffe

2. Eddie Hayden
3. Barry Coughlan
8. Harley Barnes

6. Wayne Hutchinson
5. Philip Mahony
14. Mikey Mahony

4. Ian Kenny
9. Shane O’Sullivan

17. Peter Hogan
10. Pauric Mahony
7. Billy O’Keeffe

15. Conor Power
12. Brian O’Sullivan
13. Tim O’Sullivan

Subs

11. Barry O’Sullivan for M. Mahony (HT)
18. JJ Hutchinson for O’Keeffe (41)
20. Stephen Power for T. O’Sullivan (60)
13. Mikey Mahony for S. Power (ET)
20. Stephen Power for M. Mahony (70)
7. Billy O’Keeffe for W. Hutchinson (73, inj)
23. Conor Sheahan for Hogan (77, inj)

Ballyea

1. Barry Coote

3. Brian Carrigg
5. James Murphy
2. Joe Neylon

7. Aonghus Keane
6. Jack Browne
4. Brandon O’Connell

8. Tadhg Lynch
9. Tony Kelly

10. Pearse Lillis
14. Gary Brennan
12. Cillian Brennan

13. Martin O’Leary
15. Ryan Griffin
11. Niall Deasy

Subs

20. Eoghan Donnellan for Griffin (53)
29. Brian Murphy for Carrigg (57)
22. Aaron Griffin for C. Brennan (60, inj)
12. Cillian Brennan for A. Griffin (ET)
25. Brian Casey for O’Connell (72)
22. Aaron Griffin for C. Brennan (76)
19. David Sheehan for Neylon (77)

Referee: Fergal Horgan (Tipperary)

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About the author:

Eoin Brennan

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