Wednesday 17 January 2018

Ballyhea missed out despite a brilliant performance against impressive Bishopstown

County SHC Round 3: Bishopstown 3-21 Ballyhea 2-22 (AET)

Eugene O'Leary fires over a first half point for Ballyhea during their clash with Bishopstown in the County Senior Hurling Championship last Monday evening. Photo by Eric Barry
Eugene O'Leary fires over a first half point for Ballyhea during their clash with Bishopstown in the County Senior Hurling Championship last Monday evening. Photo by Eric Barry
Ballyhea's Maurice O'Sullivan take a hit on the wrist from Bishopstown's Jamie O'Sullivan as he takes a shot during Monday night's thrilling County Senior Hurling Championship clash in Mallow Photo by Eric Barry

Diarmuid Sheehan, Mallow

Ballyhea are out of the SHC for another year after suffering a two point defeat to Bishopstown in Mallow last Monday night but that opening line tells you nothing about this game and Ballyhea's part in it as this game was a thriller from start to finish.

Ballyhea came into this year's championship under the radar. Many thought they didn't have what it takes to compete at this level and when the history books are opened in 20 years' time and people look back that might be what they take from it.

Out in round two after losses to Newcestown and Bishopstown, but Ballyhea played out a cracking tie in round one which had to be settled by a replay and only bowed out in round two after a dramatic extra 20 minutes. In fact playing time in this game was all of 90 minutes and at the end just a score separated the sides.

For the victors the likes of Pa Cronin, Thomas and Brian Murray all registered heavily on the scoreboard with Mark O'Driscoll and Jamie O'Sullivan at full and half back respectively impressing throughout.

Timmy Creed and Michael Power also showed well however some rustiness was clearly on show from Power as he missed some chances he would normally stroke home. For the vanquished side Pa O'Callaghan was magnificent again with corner-forward and two goal hero Eugene O'Leary adding real threat to the north Cork side's attack.

Gavin and John Morrissey also impressed as did keeper Mikey Browne who saved his side on a number of occasions when goals looked the likely outcome.

Bishopstown looked bright right from the start and took an early two point lead thanks to the dead ball accuracy of Cronin and a tasty ling range unchallenged effort from Brian Murray.

Ballyhea looked a little disjointed in the opening 10, however, thanks to successful efforts from John Morrissey and O'Callaghan (three) they were able to stay in touch with a Bishopstown side that were racking up far too many easy wides.

The sides traded the next four points with Bishopstown just edging proceedings by a point as the game headed to the 20th minute, however, a brilliant goal from Ballyhea's Eugene O'Leary which was followed seven minutes later by his second green flag put a different perspective on things. 2-9 to 0-9 at the break.

The second half saw Cronin step up with a brace of early points from play with Callaghan adding to his tally with some sensational scores.

The Ballyhea number 10 was at his imperious best for long periods.

Bishopstown to their credit fought hard and got back in the game with a goal from Brian Murray which was followed by some brilliant long range efforts from his brother Thomas and a now rampant Cronin.

Bishopstown struck for home on 58 minutes with a goal from Thomas Murray however three late scores from Ballyhea, the last one five minutes into injury time tied it up.

Extra time saw Ballyhea hit first from O'Leary but a goal from Power before the short whistle looked like settling this one.

Ballyhea again rallied with three points but ultimately couldn't get the one required and Bishopstown move on.

This loss will be tough for Ballyhea to take, however, the boys in black and white looked to be a better, more physical and more committed side than last year and with the likes of O'Callaghan really at the peak of his powers they is no telling what they can achieve.

Two narrow defeats and a draw in three ties and unfortunately they are out but Ballyhea have improved so much it would be a shame not to see them push on from here.

For Bishopstown, well they will face Ballymartle next weekend in round three of the SHC but for Ballyhea they will need to dust themselves down for the challenges ahead. Plenty left in this team yet.

BISHOPSTOWN: K O'Halloran; S O'Rourke, M O'Driscoll, B Murphy; R Ryan, S O'Neill, D Lester; J O'Sullivan, B Murray 1-1, E Byrne, P Cronin 0-9 (0-2f), T Murray 1-7 (0-3f, 2.65); M Power 1-2, B Lane, T Creed 0-2 Subs: D Crowley for S O'Rourke (28), C Luttrell for B Lane, B Murphy for B Murphy, B Coffey for T Creed (all ht); C Hegarty for R Ryan (65), E McCarthy for C Luttrell (69)

BALLYHEA: M Browne; O O'Sullivan, M Morrissey, K Copps; L Hanley, B Coleman T Shanahan; M O'Sullivan, D Copps; T Hanley 0-1, P O'Callaghan 0-13 (9f), L O'Connor; J Morrissey 0-1, G Morrissey 0-1, E O'Leary 2-4 Subs: J McCarthy 0-2 for T Shanahan (42), S O'Kelly for D Copps (52), S Dennehy for K Copps (70), D Copps for J Morrissey (75)

Referee: S Stokes (Tullylease).


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