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Brilliant Ballygunner too strong for Clare champions yet again

The Waterford champions advance to a Munster semi-final to be played on the weekend of 11/12 December.

niall-deasy-is-tackled-as-a-flare-is-thrown-onto-the-pitch-behind-him Smoke billows from a flare as Ballygunner players put pressure on Ballyea's Niall Deasy. Source: Ken Sutton/INPHO

Ballygunner (Waterford) 3-20

Ballyea (Clare) 2-6 

Páraic McMahon reports from Cusack Park, Ennis

FOR THE FOURTH Munster Club Senior Hurling Championship campaign in a row, Ballygunner have defeated Clare opposition.

Their latest success follows a 12-point win over Sixmilebridge in 2019, a three-point win against Ballyea in 2018 and prevailing by a single point against Sixmilebridge in 2017.

Ferocious pressure was applied by the Waterford men from the outset, putting Ballyea’s defence on the backfoot and resulting in several frees coughed up, which Pauric Mahony was more than happy to convert. He slotted five points in the opening half, all of which came from placed balls – two were 65s that arose from excellent Barry Coote saves.

Not alone did they apply pressure but the Ballygunner attack always looked for a better option with the ball and they pounced immediately when it came to counter-attacks. The goal on eight minutes came straight from a Stephen O’Keeffe puckout, with Mikey Mahony finishing the ball to the net at the other end.

Mahony’s goal would be a turning point; up to that juncture Ballyea had only been a point behind but it opened up a gap that was only going to expand as the tie progressed. By the first water break, the distance was five points and it increased to eight by half-time.

Matters would not improve for the hosts after the restart as they added a single Niall Deasy effort, while Darragh O’Sullivan’s charges tacked over 0-8 in the third quarter.

Billy O’Keeffe raided for Ballygunner’s second goal on 49 minutes and he added his second in the closing stages of the half when the Ballyea defence was left exposed.

As ever, Ballyea continued to fight until the end, the charge led by ex-Clare football captain Gary Brennan, who was pulled down to win a penalty which Deasy converted on fifty five minutes. They hit the back of the net in their next attack when a quick Deasy free was tucked into the bottom right corner by Martin O’Leary.

Winning a county title in the absence of talisman Tony Kelly was a sign of the character of the Ballyea side, but to prevail in Munster without him proved too big a task for Robbie Hogan’s team.

kevin-mahony-with-peter-casey Ballygunner's Kevin Mahony is pursued by Peter Casey of Ballyea. Source: Ken Sutton/INPHO

That their first and only score from play arrived on 49 minutes is indicative of the pressure they found themselves under. They have goalkeeper Barry Coote to thank for producing three fine saves to prevent further damage on the scoreboard.

With and without the ball, Ballygunner were a level above their opponents. Their touch and control was crisp, while their decision-making in possession was exemplary. The efforts they exuded to win back possession were most impressive in a superb display.

Conor Sheahan, Mikey Mahony, Paddy Leavey and Shane O’Sullivan were to the fore for the winners.

They will face either Thurles Sarsfields or Loughmore-Castleiney at a Waterford venue in the Munster semi-final on the weekend of 11/12 December.

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Scorers for Ballygunner: Pauric Mahony 0-8 (4 frees, 3 ’65); B O’Keeffe 2-1; M Mahony 1-2; C Sheahan 0-3; C Power 0-2; P Leavey, S O’Sullivan, K Mahony and H Ruddle (1 ’65) 0-1 each.

Scorers for Ballyea: N Deasy 1-5 (4 frees, 1 ’65); M O’Leary 1-0; P Lillis 0-1.

Ballygunner

  • 1. Stephen O’Keeffe
  • 4. Tadhg Foley
  • 3. Barry Coughlan
  • 2. Ian Kenny
  • 6. Shane O’Sullivan
  • 20. Philip Mahony
  • 7. Ronan Power
  • 9. Paddy Leavey
  • 8. Conor Sheahan
  • 15. Pauric Mahony
  • 11. Mikey Mahony
  • 12. Peter Hogan
  • 5. Billy O’Keeffe
  • 10. Dessie Hutchinson
  • 14. Kevin Mahony

Subs:

  • 21. Eddie Hayden for Power (51)
  • 13. Harry Ruddle for K Mahony (51)
  • 22. Conor Power for Hutchinson (53)
  • 18. Barry O’Sullivan for Leavey (56)
  • 17. Jake Foley for Pauric Mahony (59)

Ballyea

  • 1. Barry Coote
  • 2. Peter Casey
  • 3. Paul Flanagan
  • 4. Cian Meaney
  • 5. James Murphy
  • 6. Jack Browne
  • 7. Brandon O’Connell
  • 9. Stan Lineen
  • 8:. Gary Brennan
  • 12. Cathal O’Connor
  • 11. Pearse Lillis
  • 10. Cillian Brennan
  • 15. Aaron Griffin
  • 14. Niall Deasy
  • 13. Mossy Gavin

Subs:

  • 19. Martin O’Leary for Gavin (HT)
  • 18. Aonghus Keane for O’Connor (44)
  • 27. Ryan Griffin for Lineen (47)
  • 17. Brian Murphy for Meaney (48)

Referee: John O’Halloran (Limerick) 

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Páraic McMahon

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