Mullane magic helps shoot down 'Gunner
De La Salle 3-13 Ballygunner 1-11
De La Salle secured their second county title in three years by dethroning Ballygunner in comprehensive fashion at Walsh Park yesterday.
The margin of victory was all the more remarkable, given that Ballygunner had beaten De La Salle by 15 points when the sides clashed earlier in the championship.
De La Salle -- who went all the way to the All-Ireland final after winning the Waterford title in 2008 -- owed a lot to their county players for this victory, with John Mullane, Kevin Moran and Brian Phelan all playing key roles.
In a forgettable first half, De La Salle were by far the better team and deserved to be more than four points ahead at the interval.
Moran was absolutely superb at centre-back, winning and clearing a multitude of ball. That said, the Ballygunner forwards looked incapable of winning any aerial ball.
In attack, De La Salle also looked lively, with Mullane putting himself about, while Jake Dillon provided plenty of headaches for the Ballygunner full-back line.
De La Salle stormed into an early three-point lead, with Mullane knocking over two frees and David Greene scoring the other after being left completely unmarked.
Ballygunner did rally briefly in the middle of the half, but all their scores came from placed balls, with Stephen Power unerring in that capacity. Power scored four first-half frees -- which was the sum total of Ballygunner's efforts before the break.
De La Salle proved far more enterprising in almost every area of the field and centre-forward Greene profited, scoring two points.
In the second half, De La Salle were even better and Paudie Nevin's goal in the 40th minute, when he ran through on a loose ball, gave them an eight-point lead.
Things got even better for the new champions three minutes later when midfielder Dean Twomey picked up a breaking ball before hitting the back of the net.
The third goal came five minutes later when once again the Ballygunner defence opened up, allowing Nevin to score his second goal of the game.
Try as they might, Ballygunner could not make any inroads into the De La Salle lead.
Paudie Mahony tried very hard in attack, but his side could not win primary possession and this was their downfall in the end.
An awful lot of high ball fell on top of the De La Salle half-back line, where Moran and Stephen Daniels were superb, with the latter picking up the man-of-the-match award.
Ballygunner did get a goal back in the 54th minute when David O'Sullivan got through, but it proved to be little more than a consolation goal as De La Salle scored superb late points from substitutes Lee Hayes and Eoin Madigan, which sealed a comprehensive eight-point winning margin.
Nothing went right for Ballygunner and they even missed an injury-time penalty, blazed over the bar by Power.
Scorers -- De la Salle: J Mullane 0-9 (0-6f), P Nevin 2-0, D Twomey 1-0, D Greene 0-2, L Hayes 0-1, E Madigan 0-1. Ballygunner: S Power 0-7 (0-5f, 0-1 pen, 0-1 '65'), D O'Sullivan 1-2, JJ Hutchinson 0-1, Philip Mahony 0-1.
De La Salle -- S Brenner; D Russell, I Flynn, M Doherty; C Watt, K Moran, S Daniels; B Phelan, D Twomey; P Nevin, D Greene, E Barrett; J Mullane, J Keane, J Dillon. Subs: E Madigan for J Dillon, L Hayes for D Greene, D McGrath for J Keane, P Kennedy for M Doherty.
Ballygunner -- S O'Keeffe; J Kearney, W Kiely, A Kirwan; Philip Mahony, F Hartley, S O'Keeffe; S O'Sullivan, H Barnes; S Power, S Walsh, D O'Sullivan; T Power, Pauric Mahony, JJ Hutchinson. Subs: N Waldron for T Power, B Coughlan for J Kearney, M Kearney for JJ Hutchinson.