Ballygunner make no mistake this time around to take 13th title

Brilliant second-half showing puts Mount Sion to the sword

Ballygunner’s Brian O’Sullivan celebrates a late score in his side’s Waterford Senior Hurling Club Final victory over Mount Sion at  Walsh Park. Photograph:  Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Ballygunner’s Brian O’Sullivan celebrates a late score in his side’s Waterford Senior Hurling Club Final victory over Mount Sion at Walsh Park. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

 

Ballygunner 2-16 Mount Sion 0-9

A blistering second-half display in which they limited Mount Sion to just two points ensured a 13th Waterford Senior Hurling title for Ballygunner before 3,206 spectators at a windswept Walsh Park.

With their dramatic late collapse to Passage in the corresponding fixture last year still fresh in their mind, Ballygunner, managed by club legend and former Waterford star Fergal Hartley, hurled throughout this Championship with great purpose.

But they saved their most dominant half of hurling of the entire season for when it mattered most, outgunning Mount Sion by 0-11 to 0-2 after the break, limiting their great city rivals to just two points from play over the hour.

Playing with a strong breeze in their favour, Ballygunner led by 2-5 to 0-7 at the break, and by that time one felt this would have pleased Mount Sion, who had rallied well after a nervy opening quarter.

After 14 minutes, Ballygunner led by 2-3 to 0-2, after the favourites had risen from the blocks with great authority.

The Gunners were 1-2 to the good without reply by the seventh minute, the goal scored by corner forward Brian O’Sullivan, who struck the ball cleanly beneath Ian O’Regan from 15 yards to get their challenge off to the ideal start.

Pauric Mahony, whose growing maturity in open play this year has mirrored his consistency from the dead ball, registered Ballygunner’s opening brace of points, as Mount Sion’s backs struggled to cope with the pace of the opposing inside line.

Ian Galgey got Mount Sion off the mark in the eighth minute after fine support play by Austin Gleeson and three minutes later, Richie Roche narrowed their arrears to just the O’Sullivan goal.

A 13th-minute Pauric Mahony free from the 21-metre line extended their advantage, and 60 seconds later, it got a whole lot better for the men in black and red hoops.

A deep ball in by joint captain Harley Barnes found the lightening-fast Brian O’Sullivan in yards of space, to the incredulity of both sets of fans, and he made no mistake from point-blank range.

Mount Sion were on the rack and needed to find a reply, and did well to shore up their defence, deploying centre back Austin Gleeson into a deeper position, supported by spare defender Martin F O’Neill.

And thanks to a tighter defensive line, coupled with the free-taking accuracy of Martin O’Neill, they went in only four points down at the break, with the wind set to benefit them thereafter.

But that didn’t prove the case at all, as a rampant Ballygunner, inspired by the talismanic Mahony and full forward JJ Hutchinson, ensured that their greater attacking quality surfaced to match-winning effect.

And while Mount Sion had good goalscoring opportunities after the break, through Galgey, Tony Browne and Austin Gleeson, inter-county goalkeeper Stephen O’Keeffe proved an impregnable last line of defence for the eventual champions.

“The way we lost last year was in the back of our heads alright,” admitted centre back Wayne Hutchinson afterwards.

“But it ended up being Passage’s day and they deserved their title. But we deserved this today. We defended well, we took our scored well and we worked so, so hard to get across the line. And we’re absolutely thrilled to be county champions.”

BALLYGUNNER: Stephen O’Keeffe; Alan Kirwan, Barry Coughlin, Stephen O’Keeffe; Philip Mahony, Wayne Hutchinson, Shane Walshe; Harley Barnes (0-1), Shane O’Sullivan; Pauric Mahony (0-10, seven frees, one ’65), Barry O’Sullivan (0-1), David O’Sullivan; Brian O’Sullivan (2-2), JJ Hutchinson (0-2), Conor Power.

Subs: Peter Hogan for Conor Power (38 mins), Gavin Carroll for Martin F O’Neill (52 mins), Conor Sheahan for Barry O’Sullivan (49 mins), Barry O’Sullivan for David O’Sullivan (53 mins), Stephen Power for Barry O’Sullivan (56 mins), Robbie Cunningham for Alan Kirwan (59 mins), Gary Molloy for Barnes (60 mins).

MOUNT SION: Ian O’Regan; Mark Hoban, Christopher Ryan, Stephen O’Neill; Michael Gaffney, Austin Gleeson, Owen Whelan; Martin O’Neill (0-7, all frees), Stephen Roche; Tony Browne, Eoin McGrath, Martin F O’Neill; Richard Roche (0-1), Sean Ryan, Ian Galgey (0-1).

Subs: Peter Penkert for Christopher Ryan (half-time), Kenny Stafford for Sean Ryan (48 mins), Michael Daykin for Roche (52 mins), Gavin Carroll for Martin F O’Neill (53 mins).

Referee: Martin Curran (Old Parish)

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