Second half surge sees The Nire secure county football honours

The Nire 0-12; Ballinacourty 0-8

Michael Kiely

The Nire’s O’Gorman brothers, from left: John, Maurice, Thomas and Michael celebrate with the Conway Cup after their team’s victory over Ballinacourty at Fraher Field.| Photos: Michael Kiely

The Nire deservedly took the spoils on Sunday last in Dungarvan when securing their sixth county football title following a four point replay win over defending champions Ballinacourty.

Such a success looked a long way off after the opening minutes of the game when Ballinacourty began in a canter, running up an early three-point lead thanks to scores from Patrick Hurney, Gary Hurney and John O’Gorman.

But with a county prize at stake, The Nire gradually settled and opened their account through a Brian Wall free in the sixth minute.

The holders regained much of their initial composure after a superb Gary Hurney cross ball led to a Sean O’Hare point in the ninth minute, as the decider began to brim as it had the previous Sunday.

But the challengers continued to enjoy the lions’ share of possession, and that they soon achieved parity was of no great surprise.

Shane Walsh and Brian Wall obliged via placed balls and shared The Nire’s opening four points.

Both teams had chances before Brian Wall’s fisted effort in the 22nd minute put The Nire the ahead for the first time, and it was an advantage maintained from there until the very end.

Even so it still remained anyone’s match as the minutes ticked away up to the break. Both Laurence and Gary Hurney came close to getting the champions back on track, before Richard Fenton opened up a two-point lead for Nire in the 27th minute.

Yet undaunted, Ballinacourty fought back to leave just the minimum between the sides on the half hour mark, thanks to a well-directed John Gorman pointed free left just a point between the sides at the break. The Nire led 0-7 to 0-6.

With the outcome of this replay affair delicately poised, both teams unexpectedly went hell for leather and the teams traded early points through Michael Moore and Colin Keane respectively.

But a pattern began to develop. The champions repeatedly lost possession in vital areas, as The Nire took control around the middle of the field.

A tremendous break from defence by Thomas O’Gorman saw the full-back travel the length of the field, before being forcibly halted by John Phelan within sight of the champions’ posts.

From the resultant free, Brian Wall again put two points between the sides, followed quickly by a super point from Shane Walsh to put some daylight between the sides.

With 11 minutes remaining, the energetic Nire captain John Moore broke brilliantly down the right flank after being released by the outstanding Walsh, only to send his strike wide of Stephen Enright’s goal.

Gary Hurney brought the best out of Nire goalie Tom Flynn when he fisted the ball towards goal and he missed from a close range free thereafter as ‘Courty’s challenge grew increasingly desperate.

Sensing victory, The Nire regrouped to good effect and it was fitting that the outstanding Shane Walsh closed the challengers’ account in the 60th minute, to sign, seal and guarantee a thoroughly deserved Nire victory.

The manner in which Nire recovered from Ballinacourty’s impressive start spoke volumes of their determination, with the platform for victory built on a fine defensive bedrock.

That the O’Gormans, John Moore and David Ryan shackled the Abbeysiders’ attack was beyond dispute, with only Gary and Patrick Hurney providing any offensive threat.

The midfield partnership of Shane Walsh and Brian Wall turned out to be real match winners, accounting for 10 of their team’s 12 points, while, not for the first time, Liam Lawlor worked his socks off and demonstrated his undoubted footballing quality.

For the sixth time since 1993, the title rests in The Nire and deservedly so.

The Nire: T Flynn, J McGrath, T O’Gorman, M O’Gorman, J Moore, D Ryan, P Prendergast, S Walsh, B Wall, D Wall, M O’Gorman, C Power, L Lawlor, R Fenton, M Moore. Subs: M Walsh for D Wall (46). 

Scorers: B Wall (0-6, 0-5f), S Walsh (0-4, 0-3f), R Fenton and M Moore (0-1 each). 

Ballinacourty: S Enright, J Mullen, J Phelan, G Breen, T Murray, J Hurney, M Gorman, S O’Hare, P Lynch, P Hurney, L Hurney, J Gorman, M Fives, G Hurney, C Keane. Subs: M Ferncombe for C Keane (42), M Lavin for G Breen (55), D Fives for M Gorman (56) and J Foley for L Hurney (57).

Scorers: G Hurney and S O’Hare (0-2 each), J Gorman (0-2, 0-1f), P Hurney and C Keane (0-1).

Ref: T O’Sullivan (Cappoquin).

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