Ballygunner survive spirited late charge
BALLYGUNNER 0-17 BLACKROCK 1-11 BRAVE Ballygunner survived a spirited late charge from Blackrock to book their place in the AIB Munster club SHC final after a highly entertaining semi-final at Walsh Park.
The Waterford champions were deserving winners, but they did not book their big day against St Joseph's without testing the nerves of their enthusiastic supporters.
Three minutes into injury time and leading by three points, Ballygunner's tenacious full-back line buckled and allowed Blackrock full-forward Alan Browne to burst through on goal.
The All-Ireland winning substitute looked odds on to score, but from ten yards out he pulled his shot inches wide of the right-hand post. Ray Whitty's puck out was greeted by the final whistle.
It was a fitting final chapter to a marvellous game which thrilled the 5,500 attendance.
Ballygunner enjoyed the better start and led by 0-5 to 0-2 midway through the first half, thanks to the accuracy of inter-county sharp shooter Paul Flynn.
Blackrock's defence looked decidedly shaky having lost their captain and full-back Noel Keane through injury after about five minutes.
With substitute Ger Murphy going into left corner-back, John Browne moved into the edge of the square, but the Cork defender found it difficult to keep tabs on the flying Flynn.
The Waterford side's early dominance was built on their outstanding full-back line of Stephen Frampton, Fergal Hartley and promising youngster Alan Kirwan.
Centre-back Hartley was in inspirational form throughout and although the switch of Alan Browne to the 40 stemmed his influence, his towering second half display would have adorned any stage.
Blackrock took their time to recover from the loss of Keane but a goal from Sean Coakley put them back on level terms seven minutes before the break.
The Cork champions then moved in front for the first time with a 29th minute point from Barry Hennebry. However, four quick-fire Ballygunner points in first half injury time saw the homeside taking a 0-10 to 1-4 half-time lead.
The frenetic pace picked up even further after the break as Blackrock reduced the deficit to the minimum within two minutes of the restart. Significantly, every time the Cork side got close to the Waterford outfit, Ballygunner found extra reserves and a couple of excellent long range points from wing forward Tony Carroll saw them maintain the initiative.
While the Waterford kingpins continued to dominate possession, Blackrock could have sneaked a replay if they had enjoyed better luck in the 46th minute when Alan Cummins's rasping drive thundered off the crossbar and landed on the line.
Blackrock's claims that the sliotar had crossed the line were ignored by referee Willie Barrett and their luck didn't change in injury time with Browne's dramatic late miss.
``It was hard to see where the ball actually landed,'' said Hartley. ``But we're glad that it wasn't a goal.
``With that late chance in injury time we had our hearts in our mouths and thankfully the shot just sailed wide.
``Hopefully it's a good omen because if we could win the Munster title it would be a great boost to the county team and we're looking forward to the challenge.''
Ballygunner are certain to meet a stiff challenge from the title holders and they will be hoping for better luck than they got in the 1996 final when they lost to Clare champions Wolfe Tones by a point.
MAN OF THE MATCH Fergal Hartley (Ballygunner). SCORER'S Ballygunner: P Flynn 0-9 (0-5f), T Carroll 0-4, M Mahony 0-2, B O'Sullivan, D O'Sullivan 0-1 each. Blackrock: A Browne 0-5 (0-3f 1 x `65'), S Coakley 1-0, A Coughlan 0-3 (all f), B Hennebry 0-2, J Cashman 0-1 (f).
BALLYGUNNER - R Whitty; N O'Donnell, N Warren, R O'Sullivan; S Frampton, F Hartley, A Kirwan; T Fives, S Lyons; T Carroll, M Mahony, P Power; B O'Sullivan, P Flynn, D O'Sullivan. Sub: L Whitty for Power (55).
BLACKROCK - T Barry; W Sherlock, N Keane, J Browne; A Ryan, J Cashman, F Ryan; A Cummins, M Harrington; B Hennebry, L Meaney, A Coughlan; B O'Keeffe, A Browne, S Coakley. Subs: G Murphy for Keane (5), J Smith for Meaney (45), N O'Leary for Coakley (54).
REF W Barrett (Tipperary).
LEINSTER SHC SEMI-FINAL
Castletown go through
CASTLETOWN 1-14 ST MARTIN'S 1-9
FOR THE second time in three years, Castletown will contest the Leinster club hurling final.
Two years ago they lost to Birr but yesterday at Nowlan Park they won the right to meet Birr again with a comprehensive victory over first time Wexford winners St Martin's.
The Laois side took the lead after two minutes with a point from Paddy Dollard. The sides were level in the fifth minute when David Murphy pointed a free but that was the only time the sides were tied.
Mid-way through the half, a great clearance by Paul Cuddy fell to Dollard. He blasted for goal and although the Wexford 'keeper managed to keep it out, Fionan O'Suillivan crashed the rebound to the net.
David Cuddy made it 1-5 to 0-1 after 16 minutes. Then came Wexford's first real attack and when centre forward Rory Quigley was grounded John O'Connor drove the resultant penalty to the net. At the interval the Laois champions led 1-8 to 1-3.
Philip Murphy got St Martin's first score from play with a point after 39 minutes and when St Martin's were awarded a second penalty again for a foul on Quigley, it looked as if the Wexford side would make a game of it, but John O'Connor's shot went over for a point and with 15 minutes remaining the Laois champions were four points ahead.
SCORERS Castletown: D Cuddy 0-4 (0-2f), F O'Sullivan 1-1, P Phelan 0-3 (0-2f), P Cuddy 0-2 (2f), P Dollard, E Kirwan, C Cuddy, G Cuddy 0-1 each. St Martin's: J O'Connor 1-4 (1-0 pen 0-4f), D Murphy 0-2 (2fs) B Lambert 0-1 (f) T Codd, P Murphy 0-1 each.
CASTLETOWN J Lyons; M Phelan, Paul Cuddy, T Phelan; R Delaney, J Cuddy, J O'Sullivan; D Cuddy, C Cuddy; E Kirwan, Padraig Cuddy, G Cuddy; F O'Sullivan, P Dollard, P Phelan. Sub: P Mullaney for G Cuddy.
ST MARTIN'S J Quirke; D Murphy, P Freyne, D Sane; K Furlong, M Murphy, R McCarthy; T Codd, T Radford; B Lambert, R Quigley, B Devereux; R Lambert, J O'Connor, P Murphy. Sub: J McDonald for B Devereau.
REF P Dunphy (Kilkenny).
COUNTY SFC FINALS
UCC 1-11 NEMO RANGERS 1-8
UCC CAN celebrate in style and celebrate they certainly did when the final whistle blew in their TSB Cork SFC Final replay with Nemo Rangers at Páirc Uí Chaoimh yesterday.
An inspirational point from centre-back Eamonn Fitzmaurice less than a minute after the break sent UCC on their way as they overcame the mighty Capwell Road side with the sheer pace of their game.
That was what had been lacking in the UCC performance for the opening 30 minutes as they invited Nemo to run at them. Only for some truly woeful shooting by the Nemo men (nine wides in the first half) the game could well have been over by half time.
Instead UCC took heart from the fact that they were still in touch and following Fitzmaurice's opening score of the second period, the students tacked on two more points to take the lead for the first time in the game with only three minutes in the half gone.
Nemo did battle back to take the lead on two more occasions, but UCC had the psychological upper-hand by then and they were never going to relinquish that advantage.
After a host of points, UCC's crowning glory came with just seven minutes remaining when Ian Twiss finished off yet another free-flowing movement with a goal to open up a five point lead to secure their first title since 1973.
Nemo struck back with a goal after Stephen O'Brien raced from his centre-back spot to blast through the UCC defence.
SCORERS UCC: I Twiss 1-3; M O Croinin 0-5 (frees); E Fitzmaurice, D Reidy, S Downey 0-1 each. Nemo Rangers: C Corkery 0-5 (frees); Steven O'Brien 1-0; K Cahill, J Kavanagh, J P O'Neill 0-1 each.
UCC A Quirke; C Breathnach, F Kelleher, S MacSithigh; P Galvin, E Fitzmaurice, D Reidy; M O Se, E Hanrahan; L Murphy, M O Croinin, G Stack; M D Cahill, B Sheehan, I Twiss; Sub: S Downey for Hanrahan.
NEMO RANGERS D Heaphy; L Kavanagh, D Kavanagh, K Cowhie; N Geary, S O'Brien, D Creedon; C Cahill, M McCarthy; A Cronin, M Cronin, K Connolly; J P O'Neill, J Kavanagh, C Corkery. Subs: Sean O'Brien for Geary, I Gibbons for Cowhie, S Fahy for M McCarthy.
REF M Collins (Clonakilty).
TYRELLSPASS 2-6 ATHLONE 1-7
IMPRESSIVE Tyrellspass made a big breakthrough when winning their first ever Westmeath senior football final at Cusack Park Mullingar yesterday.
In an exciting and entertaining decider, Tyrellspass got a vital goal in the 18th minute when Martin Flanagan netted.
However, Athlone replied just on the stroke of half-time when Neil Dolan scored a spectacular goal to leave his team trailing by 1-5 to 1-4.
With Joe Fallon and Gordon Brett picking off points, Athlone went in front, but a smashing John Corcoran goal midway through the half gave Tyrellspass a lead they never subsequently surrendered.
SCORERS Tyrellspass: J Corcoran, M Flanagan 1-2 each, B Arthur, M Carley 0-1 each. Athlone: J Fallon 0-5, N Dolan 1-1, G Brett 0-1. TYRELLSPASS J Hyland; D Scally, J O'Brien, B Murphy; S Arthur, D Murphy, D Gavin; A Corcoran, B Arthur; M Carley, M Flanagan, C Murphy; J Corcoran, M Staunton, R Sheerin. Subs: T Dwyer for R Sheerin, K Connell for M Carley
ATHLONE R Daly; P Mullin, A Collins, P Allen; B Kenny, F Murray, J Kilroy; R O'Connell, S Geraghty; D Kelly, D Prendergast, P Fogarty; J Fallon, S Hahessy, N Dolan. Subs: O Keating for P Mullin, G Brett for D Kelly, N Johnson for S Hahessy.
REF A Murray (St Loman's).
Easy for Cork
CORK 3-13 OFFALY 1-13
THE visit of All-Ireland champions Cork to Banagher for yesterday's Oireachtas tie against Offaly attracted a sparse attendance which saw the visitors confirm championship form winning rather easily by 3-13 to 1-13.
Cork completed dominated the first half. Goals by Kevin Murray and Neil Ronan in the opening 10 minutes got them off to a great start and they went on to lead at half time by 2-9 to 0-5.
Offaly came more into the game on the change of ends, but the visitors stretched their lead to 12 points when Kevin Murray added a third goal in the 49th minute.
SCORERS Cork: K Murray 2-5, N Ronan 1-1, S O'Farrell, P Ryan 0-3 each, E Fitzgerald 0-1. Offaly: J Dooley 0-6, P Mulhare 1-1, C Gath 0-3, N Murphy 0-2, D Kelly 0-1.
CORK D Og Cusack; M Prendergast, D O'Sullivan, P Sexton; J Sheehan, P Mulcahy, A Fitzpatrick; M O'Connell, P Ryan; J Kingston, F McCormack, E Fitzgerald; K Murray, S O'Farrell, N Ronan. Sub: S Foley for O Connor.
OFFALY S Byrne; M O Hara, K Kinahan, M Rigney; A Mannion, H Rigney, C Cassidy; W Comerford, D Kelly; C Gath, N Murphy, P Mulhare; J Dooley, J Troy, A Hanrahan. Subs: J Kelly for M Rigney, D Franks for Comerford.
REF S Roche (Tipperary).