Ballygunner aiming for eight-in-a-row in Waterford hurling final

Roanmore the latest club to attempt to end Deise kingpins’ phenomenal winning run

Ballygunner v Roanmore, Walsh Park, Sunday 2.0 (TG4)

Apparently eternal champions Ballygunner go in search of an eighth successive title – edging closer to the record jointly held by Mount Sion and Erin's Own – or if you prefer, a ninth in 11 years.

Maybe part of the reason for the domination has been the lack of a persistent challenger. This weekend Roanmore become the sixth different opponents in those eight finals. There is a sense in the county however that the Gunners are reaching a breaking point.

Unlike last year’s county final when Passage, having done well to get that far, were not expected to pose a vibrant challenge – in fact the impending contest was labelled ‘Gallipoli’ by one apprehensive onlooker – this time around, Roanmore may have a chance.

The odds mightn't reflect that but the champions are weaker with Philip Mahony still injured and brother Pauric still adjusting after long-term injury.


In the semi-final they got taken to the wire by Mount Sion, who in injury-time fizzed a shot at goal narrowly wide when just a point behind.

Ballygunner came that close to seeing their eight-year unbeaten run capped but instead take a 42-match sequence into the final. Dessie Hutchinson remains the go-to forward and chipped in 0-4 from play against Mount Sion whereas former All Star goalkeeper Stephen O'Keeffe made a crucial intervention early on.

Their opponents Roanmore are the fourth club that former county stalwart Peter Queally has taken to the county final, including the Passage side whose late goals in 2013 engineered the last defeat sustained by Ballygunner in the county championship.

It is the club’s first final since 1990 when they achieved back-to-back titles, their first successes in the championship. They bring a physical, hard running game, which may trouble the champions, as Mount Sion hinted in the semi-final.

Captain, Gavin O'Brien, is having a terrific year and scored 0-11, three from play, in the semi-final defeat of Dungarvan. Billy Nolan, one of Waterford's goalkeepers in this year's championship, is effectively deployed as sweeper by Roanmore and he was another major contributor the last day.

It is likely though that the champions, jolted by how close they came to calamity last week, can refocus and make it eight-in-a-row but it may not be as straightforward as last year.

Seán Moran

Seán Moran

Seán Moran is GAA Correspondent of The Irish Times