COUNTY JUNIOR ‘B’ HURLING CHAMPIONSHIP FINAL
St Finbarr's 4-8
Ballyhea took the County JBHC (Inter Divisional) title at Pairc Ui Rinn on Saturday when they had five points to spare over St Finbarr's. It was third time lucky for Ballyhea as they were beaten in the 2019 and 2020 County finals by Aghabullogue and Midleton respectively. On this occasion the Avondhu side led all through.
Neil Ronan opened with two early points. James Goggin replied for the City side. Neil Ronan followed with a great point before Dylan Byrne pointed for St Finbarr's Ballyhea had their first goal by Neil Ronan after 12 minutes Good play by Jordan Morrissey to James Horgan led to a foul with Neil Roan pointing a free in the 15th minute.
Andrew Turner then had a goal for Barr's after a solo run. In the 21st minute Jordan Morrissey pointed Dylan Byrne and Neil Ronan (free) exchanged a point. The winners had their second goal when James Horgan worked well for Mikey Mortell who netted opening up a double scores lead 2-6 to 1-3. Robert O'Mahony who had moved out field pointed a free for the Barr's. At half time Ballyhea held a 2- 6 to 1-4 lead.
On the resumption James Goggin pointed a free for the Seandun side. Ballyhea had 3 points in succession by Neil Ronan (2) and James Horgan entering the final quarter 2-9 to 1-5. Barr's tried very hard but the Ballyhea defence and keeper Gearoid O'Shea were very solid.
Ballyhea forced a penalty that Neil Ronan converted in the 48th minute 3-9 to 1-5. Robert O'Mahony with a long range free kept the City side in touch 3-9 to 1-6. The winners had their fourth goal when James Horgan soloed through placing Stephen Walsh who netted 4-9 to 1-6.
In the 55th minute Mikey Mortell worked well for James Horgan who goaled 5-9 to 1-6. Barr's hit a purple patch but it was a bit too late. Ger McCann pointed and they had 3 goals in a four minute period by Robert O'Mahony Faolann Linnane and James Goggin as they cut the lead 5-9 to 4-7 by the 59th minute. O'Mahony added a pointed free in injury time. In the 61st minute Neil Ronan completed the scoring from a free.
After the game Pat Horgan, Cork County Board vice-chairman, presented the Cup to the winning captain Owen O'Sullivan in the presence of a large Ballyhea contingent. Neil Ronan was named 'man of the match'.
BALLYHEA: G O'Shea, M Crowley, C Crowley, O O'Sullivan, W Shanahan, K Hanley, A Horan, W Carroll, J Morrissey 0-1, M Mortell 1-0, L O'Connor, E O'Sullivan, S O'Kelly, N Ronan 2-8 (1-6f), J Horgan 1-1. Subs: J O'Leary for W Shanahan, K Copps for O O'Sullivan M Mortell for J Morrissey, S Walsh 1-0 for S O'Kelly, S Dennehy for M Crowley.
ST. FINBARR'S: P Kenneally, L Twomey P O'Brien, R McCarthy, B Mannion, J Goggin 1-2 (0-1f), P Buckley, S Dwane, C O'Mahony, F Linnane 1-0, D Byrne 0-2, A Turner 1-0, E Maher, R O'Mahony 1-3 (0-3f), E Mulcahy. Subs: S O'Leary for R McCarthy, M Russell for P Buckley, M Ryan for E Mulcahy, J O'Kelly for C O'Mahony, G McCann 0-1 for M Russell.
Referee: Jim McEvoy (Blarney)
After the game a delighted Ballyhea manager Darren Ronan said the victory was huge for the club.
"It is brilliant, massive for the club. It was a great occasion and we are looking forward to a huge homecoming with the cup. We have a very youthful side with a couple of experienced players thrown in. Stephen Dennehy, Neil Ronan and Owen O'Sullivan have been around for many years. Their experience proved vital at stages today.
“We had eight goals against Randal Og in the semi-final and five today in the county final. Our lads have great pace down the wings. We focussed a lot on that in training. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. We got maximum return in both the county semi-final and final. It is not always easy to get 13 goals in two games in Winter Hurling.
“I suppose we will be going up (to JAHC). After losing two county finals in 2019 and 2020 it is great to get the win. It was a great relief for the club. We had a great 2022 winning county JBHC, county under 15 Division 1 HC defeating Clonakilty after a replay. We also won a county junior camogie championship. (All three county titles were won in the space of a hectic three-week period).
"Our club is going very well now, great improvement from this time 12 months ago. We still have a Division 2 hurling league final to play against Araglin,” Ronan said.