Sunday 22 September 2019

Morrissey's strike the difference

County SHC Round 3 - Ballyhea 1-14, Kanturk 0-14

John Tarrant at Páirc Uí Rinn

Ballyhea rose magnificently to the challenge during the second half to overcome Kanturk in a hard fought County Senior Hurling Championship Round 3 at Páirc Uí Rinn on Saturday last.

Crucially, Ballyhea discovered their stride in attack, John Morrissey's all important goal a turning moment midway through the second half that ultimately decided the destination of the spoils. Manager Ray Ronan praised the work ethic and determination of his side that dug deep to carve out a deserved win.

"In effect, this was a relegation battle, whoever won was retaining senior A status in 2020. The Bride Rovers win in the previous round gave us great confidence, now, we are into the quarter finals and we will have a right cut at it," he said.

"It's all of 1995 since we last reached the last eight, this is a huge honour for a small parish. The John Morrissey goal changed the landscape of the game, a great finish and a fantastic fillip to us," said Ronan.

Kanturk dictated much of the opening half, the play of Paul Walsh, Lorcán McLoughlin and Darren Browne establishing a firm grip in defence with Seán Carey catching the eye in attack.

Early Ballyhea points from Pa O'Callaghan and Maurice O'Sullivan cancelled out efforts by Kanturk's Aidan and Ian Walsh. Kanturk grew into the contest, close to a goal, good work by Carey put Liam O'Keeffe through only to shoot narrowly wide.

At times, wayward shooting hindered Kanturk from emphasising their superiority, eight wides recorded in the opening half before points from McLoughlin and three per Carey pushed the Duhallow men 0-6 to 0-2 ahead.

Indeed, Kanturk might well had been further ahead, Ballyhea keeper Mikey Browne produced a brilliant save from James Fitzpatrick.

From a relatively mundane affair, Browne's heroics ignited Ballyhea during the latter stages to the opening half, points from John Morrissey and O'Sullivan halved the deficit.

Though Ian Walsh replied for Kanturk, Ballyhea utilised added on time to the maximum, points from Eugene O'Leary and O'Sullivan gained parity 0-8 apiece at the short whistle.

Again Kanturk restarted with a flourish, Carey converted a free and substitute Daniel O'Connell obliged.

When the chips were down, Ballyhea stepped up to the plate, drawing inspiration from the play of Liam O'Connor, Caileann Cox and Barry Coleman with O'Sullivan, O'Callaghan and goalscorer John Morrissey posing a new found threat.

O'Sullivan reduced the deficit thanks to superb effort from a sideline only for Kanturk to maintain the upperhand, Mark Healy and a Carey free helped maintain a 0-12 to 0-9 grip.

However the Ballyhea game remained persuasive, rewarded in the 42nd minute, Morrissey took up the responsibility, skipped past several defenders to bat the sliothar past Anthony Nash for parity once again. Now Ballyhea's game rose a notch, O'Leary fired over a lead point with O'Callaghan adding a beauty on the run.

Though Ian Walsh answered for Kanturk, Ballyhea's non stop toiling was at the heart of their game, two additional points from O'Sullivan made it 1-13 to 0-13 nearing the close of regulation time.

Kanturk did their best to plot a way out of troubled waters and went in search of a goal to take the contest to extra-time.

However they were forced to regret shooting a total of 15 wides, that contrasted to a splendid Morrissey point from distance to put four between the sides.

Still Kanturk plugged away, a sideline by Carey found James Fitzpatrick only to fire wide of the target.

Carey did point a late free that proved a consolation score, their goal shyness proved decisive. That aspect underlined the contrasting efficiency levels where Ballyhea's key men were hugely influential, good enough to secure a place in a quarter final meeting against Carrigtwohill.

BALLYHEA: M Browne; O O'Sullivan, M Morrissey, A Barrett; L O'Connor, B Coleman, L Hanley; J Morrissey 1-2, K Copps; M O'Sullivan 0-6 (1 sideline), P O'Callaghan 0-4 (3f), C Cox; T Hanley, G Morrissey, E O'Leary 0-2 Sub: T Foley for O O'Sullivan (HT inj)

KANTURK: A Nash; J McLoughlin, L Cashman, P Walsh; A Sheehy, D Browne, L McLoughlin 0-1; L O'Neill 0-1, M Healy 0-1; I Walsh 0-3, S Carey 0-6 (3f), J Fitzpatrick; A Walsh 0-1, R Walsh, L O'Keeffe Subs: D O'Connell 0-1 for L O'Keeffe (29), C Clernon for R Walsh (52)

Referee: Joe Larkin (Ballinora)