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'The lads will be gutted' - another tough day at the office for Waterford hurlers

Ballygunner’s players suffered that losing feeling again.

Disappointment for Ballygunner hurling manager Fergal Hartley.
Disappointment for Ballygunner hurling manager Fergal Hartley.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

A FAMILIAR FEELING descended on the Ballygunner camp at the final whistle in Thurles yesterday.

For the club it was an eighth reversal in a Munster senior decider.

For their current squad of players it was a second such loss in three years and a bunch of them were involved back in their 2009 defeat.

The pain was more acute for Ballygunner’s flagship figures as it arrived two months after the Mahony brothers – Pauric and Philip – Stephen O’Keeffe and Barry Coughlan were sunk on All-Ireland final day with Waterford.

2017 has delivered some harsh hurling blows.

“The lads will be gutted,” admitted manager Fergal Hartley.

“Two huge days and Munster championship is what we have been dreaming about for a long time now.

“I suppose after winning four (Waterford) championships you’d be hoping that you’d get Munster success in one of those. We’ve had some good days, but came up short.

“It is tough on them, they’ve had two huge days where they have come up short and didn’t come home with the silverware. It’s very tough.”

Pauric Mahony had spearheaded Ballygunner’s march to the Munster final. In the four outings for his club since the Waterford county semi-final, O’Mahony had amassed 1-39 with 1-31 from placed balls.

An outstanding marksmen, there is an expectation on O’Mahony to deliver but yesterday he could not quite find his range. Six of the frees he struck – admittedly from distances over 65 yards – did not yield a white flag with three falling short and three drifting wide.

His manager was in no mood to apportion blame though.

“You know to be fair a huge amount of his frees were difficult frees on a day with a wet ball.

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“Certainly it wouldn’t be a factor. There is plenty of other factors in fairness.

“Pauric Mahony probably got us here. So many days he has pulled us out of the fire. (It’s) absolutely not a factor as far as I’m concerned.

Pauric Mahony surrounded by supporters Pauric Mahony surrounded by Ballygunner supporters after their Munster quarter-final success against Thurles Sarsfields. Source: Ken Sutton/INPHO

“To be fair we have no complaints. The better team won on the day, so no complaints.

“We are very proud of the way the boys threw everything at it, they left everything on the field and they did their best.

“That’s all you can ask of fellas every day they go out.”

The age profile and talent in the Ballygunner team would suggest they have the capacity to respond but Hartley pointed out the difficulty of the route back to this stage.

“(A) Munster final again seems like a long long way away. If you think what you have to do to get here in the first place, beat the likes of Thurles Sars, beat the likes of Sixmilebridge, De La Salle, Lismore, Mount Sion.

“It just seems like a hell of a long way away again. Look, it’s not for today. We just came up short against a great team.”

The42 has just published its first book, Behind The Lines, a collection of some of the year’s best sports stories. Pick up your copy in Eason’s, or order it here today (€10):

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Fintan O'Toole

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