Champions prevail in Dungarvan goal-rush Gutsy An Rinn display falls short
Ballinacourty 3-9; An Rinn 2-5
One of the most drawn-out County Senior Football Championship campaigns ever eventually reached its penultimate stages following the last of the quarter-final matches played at Fraher Field on Sunday afternoon last, where defending champions Ballinacourty duly qualified to face Stradbally in this weekend’s semi’s on the basis of a decisive victory over An Rinn .
Bitterly-cold blustery conditions prevailed at the Old Boro venue keeping the attendance very much on the small side, yet the game was far more competitive than the scoreline suggests. The challengers’ obsession in seeking goals when points were there for the taking was telling in the finish.
The Gaeltacht colours, whose starting XV included 12 members of the successful Intermediate hurling side, were obliged to line out without the influential services of former Kilmac’ player Micheal Downey, who had been a key performer in the earlier rounds of the championship. Ballinacourty on the other hand continued their quest to win back-to-back titles without the assistance of the injured Shane Briggs and John Kindergan, but did include 11 members of their County Hurling Final side.
The game started on an exceptionally lively note with each side missing early chances before Mark Fives, set up by Patrick Hurney, opened the scoring in the champions’ favour with an excellent point in the 6th minute.
A minute later, An Rinn’s Micheal O Toibin converted a free following a foul on Liam O Lionain ,and the stage was set for what developed into a rousing first half. A well-orchestrated Ballinacourty move involving Richie Foley and Sean O’Hare led to Gary Hurney restoring his side’s lead in the 9th minute, but, not to be outdone, An Rinn were back on level terms by the 14th minute, again Michael O Toibin obliging from a placed position.
The first of four first-half goals came two minutes later when a quickly taken Gary Hurney free caught the Gaeltacht defence off-guard, and his younger brother Patrick raced through to send an unstoppable shot to the back of An Rinn net.
It continued a very open affair with An Rinn, aided by the strong breeze, doing most of the attacking, and this first paid off in the 18th minute when the combined play of Noel and Cillian O Murchadha conjured up the game’s only penalty, which was duly deposited to the Ballinacourty net by the impressive Sean O Ceallaigh.
Five minutes later the Gaeltacht men breached the champions’ citadel a second time. Cian O Conchuir proved to be the provider and versatile Liam O Cuirrin the executioner.
The Ring side might very well have extended their lead with a little more care, and it was a little against the run of play coming up to the half-hour mark when, winning possession from a throw-in close to the 20-metre line, Gary Hurney showed why he is such an exciting footballer, giving Tomas O Cadhla no chance in the An Rinn goal and it was all-square for the third time.
During the three minutes added on by referee Pat Casey, Patrick Hurney restored Ballinacourty’s lead with a superb point, but straight away Sean O Ceallaigh scorned a great opportunity to level again at the other end, and the teams went into the recess with the men from the Gold Coast leading by the minimum margin, 2-3 to 2-2.
Champions on top
Even though Ann Rinn were now playing into the teeth of the strong wind, they restarted in encouraging fashion. But was only going to be a matter of time before Ballinacourty consolidate their slender half-time advantage.
A pair of excellently-taken Richie Foley points from long range in the 32nd and 33rd minutes made An Rinn’s task a little more difficult. However, this changed in the 37th minute when defender Gavin Breen, on receipt of a second yellow card, was sent packing by referee Pat Casey and straight away the Gaeltacht men were thrown a lifeline when Micheal O Toibin notched his third point from a free, and only the width of the upright prevented Sean O Ceallaigh from getting another.
But in typical champion fashion, Ballinacourty steadied the ship. Brothers Laurence and Gary Hurney put them four points clear (2-7 to 2-3) as play entered the final quarter, and to all intents and purposes the game was over as a contest in the 49th minute when a left-footed Patrick Hurney centre from the right was finished home by his brother Laurence for Ballinacourty’s third goal.
Despite the dramatic turn of events, An Rinn, to their credit, refused to accept their fate, but seemed obsessed with seeking goals. While a well-taken Eoghan Breathnach point in the 50th minute was no more than deserved, Ballinacourty immediately hit back with similar scores from Laurence Hurney and Mark Fives adding to their advantage, with a late Liam O Lionain point no more than a consolation.
In a winning side a mere hour away from a second successive County Final appearance, none performed better than Gary, Patrick and Laurence Hurney, Richie Foley, John Phelan, Sean O’Hare and Mark Fives, with the vanquished best served by Liam O Lionain, Padraig and Nodlaig O Murchadha. Sean O Ceallaigh, Cian O Conchur agus Tadgh O hUallachain.
Ballinacourty: Stephen Enright, Joey Mullen, John Phelan, Gavin Breen, Richie Foley, John Hurney, Mark Gorman, Sean O’Hare, Patrick Lynch, Patrick Hurney, Laurence Hurney,John Gorman, Mark Fives, Gary Hurney, James Mahoney. Subs: Declan Fives for J.Gorman, Tierna Murray for J.Mahoney , Ian Kiely for L.Hurney .
Scorers: Gary Hurney 1-3, Patrick and Laurence Hurney 1-1 each, Mark Fives and Richie Foley 0-2 each ,
An Rinn: Tomas O Cadhla, Sean O hArtaigh, Cillian O Murchadha, Sean O Cuirrin, Eoghan Breathnach, Darra Breathnach, Nodlaigh O Murchadha, Sean O Ceallaigh, Tadgh O hUallachain, Micheal O Toibin, Padraig O Murchadha, Liam Breathnach, Cian O Conchur, Liam O Cuirrin, Liam O Lionain.
Scorers: Sean O Ceallaigh agus Liam O Cuirrin 1-0 each, Micheal O Toibin 0-3 , Eoghan Breathnach agus Liam O Lionain 0-1 each.
Referee: Pat Casey (Cappoquin).
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