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Tipp giants gunned down

TOOMEVARA manager Roger Ryan issued a ringing endorsement of Ballygunner within minutes of watching them eclipse his side by 2-10 to 0-15 to reach the Munster clu...

TOOMEVARA manager Roger Ryan issued a ringing endorsement of Ballygunner within minutes of watching them eclipse his side by 2-10 to 0-15 to reach the Munster club hurling final.

"Ballygunner are a fine team and I think they will beat Blackrock," said Ryan. "We beat Blackrock heavily a few years ago and they haven't looked that impressive from what I've seen on television recently."

But Ballygunner have come up short before and realise that wins over St Joseph's Doora-Barefield and Toomevara, while all very well, will fade into insignificance if they can't complete the job.

They lost two Munster club finals in the 1990s so they quickly turned their attentions to the task ahead. After the game the team's dressing room door was slammed shut to enable a "warming down" session to begin.

There were 7,000 spectators in Walsh Park for yesterday's replay and the victorious manager Gordon Ryan admitted their backs were "to the wall" in the final minutes, despite having an extra man after Eoin Brislane was sent off ten minutes from time. "I'm thrilled, this meant a lot to us," he said.

Referee Ger Harrington blew the final whistle seconds after normal time had expired and Roger Ryan admitted he had expected more time to be played. But he refused to be critical.

"We had our chances during the game," he said. "It's disappointing. We drew with Patrickswell last year and threw away the replay. We are bitterly disappointed as we felt we were up for it."

Toomevara have won the last four Tipperary titles but each time failed to make a strong impression in Munster.

"The lads in there are shattered. But while I'm not taking away from Ballygunner, we have been unlucky. Being short Tony Delaney, Kevin Cummins and Paddy O'Brien is a massive loss to any club team," said Ryan, who placed Tommy Dunne at centre-back.

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Alan Kirwan, the young Ballygunner full-back who kept a tight rein on John O'Brien, said his club had been "knocking on the door for years." "Everyone was writing Waterford hurling off but I think we've proved we can do it on the big day."

Well, not quite. Next Sunday will provide a more conclusive verdict.


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