Monday 23 September 2019

Sweet revenge for Ballygunner as they secure first Munster title in 17 years

Ballygunner 2-14 Na Piarsaigh 2-8

Brian O'Sullivan of Ballygunner reacts after missing a goal-scoring opportunity during the AIB Munster GAA Hurling Senior Club Championship Final between Na Piarsaigh and Ballygunner at Semple Stadium in Thurles, Co. Tipperary. Photo by Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
Brian O'Sullivan of Ballygunner reacts after missing a goal-scoring opportunity during the AIB Munster GAA Hurling Senior Club Championship Final between Na Piarsaigh and Ballygunner at Semple Stadium in Thurles, Co. Tipperary. Photo by Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Ballygunner put the disappointment of two Munster club final defeats to Na Piarsaigh in the previous three years behind them as they overwhelmed the reigning champions in Thurles for their first provincial title since 2001.

A defiant performance, spearheaded by half-backs Philip Mahony and Wayne Hutchinson, kept Na Piarsaigh to just one score from play for the final 40 minutes, inflicting a first-ever provincial championship defeat on the four-time winners who had won 11 and drawn one of their previous 12 games.

Na Piarsaigh had the better start and when Kevin Downes rounded Barry Coughlan for an early goal, helping them to a five-point lead, they looked set to extend their unbeaten run.

But Ballyguner were relentless and with Conor Power and Peter Hogan sparking in attack they found more room and fluency to get back in front at the break (1-7 to 1-6), courtesy of goalkeeper Stephen O'Keeffe's 27th-minute penalty after Brian O'Sullivan was fouled.

The expected Na Piarsaigh backlash didn't materialise as the effects of a long season, especially for their county players, may have told.

They just couldn't match the determination of Ballygunner who had lost eight of their previous nine finals, four since their solitary win in 2001.

Philip Mahony and Hutchinson were imperious in keeping things together at the back.

They pushed five points ahead by the 39th minute and got a break when a Pauric Mahony free deceived Na Piarsaigh goalkeeper Podge Kennedy for a second goal on 47 minutes.

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Shane Dowling, denied by O'Keeffe from an earlier effort, blasted a goal from a free six minutes later but they couldn't dig deep enough to find any more as the Waterford champions prevailed.

 

Scorers - Ballygunner: Pauric Mahony 1-6 (1-5fs), Brian O'Sullivan 0-3, S O'Keeffe 1-0 (pen), Barry O'Sullivan 0-2, B O'Keeffe, S O'Sullivan, C Power all 0-1 each

Na Piarsaigh: S Dowling 1-4 (1-3fs), K Downes 1-0, R Lynch 0-2, D Dempsey, A Dempsey 0-1 each

 

Ballygunner: S O'Keeffe; I Kenny, B Coughlan, E Hayden; W Hutchinson, Philip Mahony, H Barnes; B O'Keeffe, Barry O'Sullivan; S O'Sullivan, Pauric Mahony, P Hogan; T O'Sullivan, Brian O'Sullivan, C Power. Subs: M Mahony for T O'Sullivan (57), JJ Hutchinson for Power (61).

Na Piarsaigh: P Kennedy; J Boylan, M Casey, C King; R Lynch, W O'Donoghue, T Grimes; A Dempsey, G Brown; D Dempsey, S Dowling, C Boylan; A Breen, K Downes, P Casey. Subs: M Foley for Grimes (42), C Houlihan for Breen (50)

 

Referee: N Wall (Cork)

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