Ballyduff see off battling Brickeys

Western Under 21 ‘B’ Hurling Championship Final

Ballyduff 0-12
Brickey Rangers 0-07

Tony Ryan Reports

The curtain – and the incessant rain – came down on the Western Board fixtures for the year at the Gold Coast in Ballinacourty last Sunday afternoon when Ballyduff proved deserving winners over a Brickeys outfit that went home with their pride intact.The free taking capabilities of Andrew Casey against the elements and also that of Eoghan Murray from long distance proved to be the difference between the sides with both players accounting for half of their finishing tally of 0-12.Conor Whelan opened the black and amber account with a pointed free on 13 minutes but despite plenty of possession, all they had to show for at the end of the half was another similar score and none from play. Ballyduff, themselves, scored just one point from play in the first half but Andrew Casey was spot on from frees, converting four, and at the short whistle, they had one hand already on the divisional cup, leading by 0-06 to 0-02.

Brickeys were well prepared for the weather as they returned for the second half with a different set of jerseys and their performance improved greatly against an opposition that included up to eight of their senior side.
True, Ballyduff were never in danger of being overtaken as the goal that Brickeys required to produce a thrilling finish never materialised. However, Brickeys looked the better of the two teams in the second half, perhaps aided also by the dismissal of Ballyduff’s midfielder Fionnan Hickey on a second yellow card.
Ballyduff opened an five point advantage on three occasions during the second half: the first when Andrew Casey opened the second half scoring with his only minor from play and Eoghan Murray added a score from a long range free after Conor Whelan, the Brickeys only scorer up to this stage, raised his third white flag (0-08 to 0-03).

The Brickeys first score from play was credited to their midfielder Darragh Herlihy as late as the 40th minute and at this point, their defence was well on top with the Casey brothers Andrew and Sean’s influence on proceedings being well contained.However, at the other end of the field, the Brickeys were not working the scoreboard and when Ballyduff’s Eoin O Brien and Andrew Casey (a free), added to the reds tally by the 50th minute, a lead of 0-10 to 0-04 seemed to settle the match as a contest.Credit Brickeys, they popped over the next three points via the influential Conor Browne (with two frees) and a contender for score of the match by Darragh Herlihy and with normal time completed Darragh Duggan’s charges were searching for what would have been an equalising goal.

With the Brickeys left open somewhat at the back, Ballyduff copper fastened their win deep into added time via points from play per Aidan O’Brien and Sean Casey to deservingly take the honours and qualify for a tilt at the County title.On the winner’s side, Oran Leamy was dominant on the edge of the square at number 3 and Eoghan Murray had his usual steadying affect on the defence at centre back. Sean Kenny and Fionnan Hickey shared the midfield honours but the latter’s dismissal on a second yellow card put some late match pressure on his team. The O’Brien brothers Eoin and Aidan contributed on the score sheet for the winners as did the Casey brothers Andrew and Sean against the Brickeys’ strongest sector, their defence.
In that Brickey defence, all six players led the way while at midfield Eoghan Curran worked hard and Darragh Herlihy played a great second half.

However, the Achilles heel of the side proved to be the forwards with none of the nine players who saw action scoring from play and a Western title will not be won with this damning stat.This was the last Western Under-21 hurling game ever to be played since the championship’s birth in 1966. Few Boards, and there has been many different ones, have been able to manage this grade in the past 52 years with the deciders being played in the final days of the year and in some cases recently in the following year.The Eastern Final was also due to be played last Sunday but a road traffic accident involving some of the St Molleran’s players due to take on Roanmore led to its postponement and it was scheduled for midweek, with the County final perhaps to go ahead next weekend.

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