Borris-Ileigh shock Gunners to win Munster title

Ballygunner 1-11
Borris-Ileigh (Tipperary) 1-12

Brian Flannery Reports

Tipperary champions Borris-Ileigh caused a major shock when they defeated reigning champions Ballygunner by a single point in the Munster club senior hurling final.Two late points from All-Ireland medal winner and current All-Star Brendan Maher was enough to see Borris-Ileigh earn their first title in thirty-three years.
Ballygunner were the hottest of favourites (1/5) going into this final against the complete outsiders (9/2) from North Tipperary.

Ballygunner’s Pauric Mahony tries a long range shot early in the game under pressure from Borris-Ileigh’s Sean McCormack.

Ballygunner’s Pauric Mahony tries a long range shot early in the game under pressure from Borris-Ileigh’s Sean McCormack.

The Waterford champions had blazed a trail through Munster with impressive twelve point and eight-point victories over Sixmilebridge and Patrickswell on route to Sunday’s final. Borris-Ileigh on the other hand had three single score victories in the knock-out Tipperary championship before edging past Glen Rovers (the Cork runners up) by three points in their Munster semi-final.The floodlights at Pairc Uí Rinn were on from the start and there was little to separate the sides in the opening quarter. Conditions were difficult with frequent rain on an already slippy surface.

Barry Coughlan took up sentry duty patrolling the former Tipp minor JD Devaney in a man to man marking job with Philip Mahony again operating as an extra defender in front of Stephen O’Keeffe’s goal.
Peter Hogan, who passed a late fitness test, partnered Dessie Hutchinson in a two-man full-forward line for the Gunners. Brendan Maher, the Tipp star, was in direct opposition to Gunners talisman Pauric Mahony with his fellow Tipp colleague Dan McCormack in close proximity.

The sides were level on five occasions in all in the opening half in front of an official attendance of 2,663.
Three points in succession from Dessie Hutchinson (2) and Paddy Leavy gave the reigning champions the clear advantage on the scoreboard to lead 0-8 to 0-5 approaching the half-time break. The third of this trio of points was a masterful effort from Hutchinson, directly off the stick from the sideline in front of the stand. A point apiece in first half injury time from Connor Kenny and Pauric Mahony kept the margin at three, 0-9 to 0-6 as the sides went to the dressing rooms.

Brendan Maher pointed an early second half free to narrow the margin to just two points. There was no lack of effort by the sides but the effect of the conditions and tough tackling meant scores continued to be at a premium. In the 39th minute Dessie Hutchinson again won possession on the wing before finding his striking partner Peter Hogan with an accurate pass close to goal. On this occasion Hogan was illegally pulled to the ground before getting a shot off. Pauric Mahony pointed the resulting free to restore the champions three-point lead but it was certainly a let-off for the Tipp side.

Ballygunner held this three-point advantage heading into the final quarter and looked likely winners.
Borris-Illeigh had other ideas though. A magnificent run by half-back Ray McCormack set Kieran Maher away to shoot high to the ‘Gunners net past Stephen O’Keeffe and level the game 1-7 to 1-10, 44 minutes played.
Man of the match and former All-Ireland winning captain Brendan Maher first landed a superb point from play and then converted a close in free to nudge his side two points clear with ten to play.
The game was now beginning to hot up considerably.

Dessie Hutchinson managed to free himself from the clutches of the Borris defence to find an unmarked Barry O’Sullivan with the perfect cross-field pass. O’Sullivan had little difficulty in firing Gunners back into to the lead with an expertly taken goal, 1-10 to 1-9. The end to end drama continued with Jerry Kelly somehow managing to escape the clutches of his marker to point and level the game again. Conor Sheehan pointed under pressure to put a now nervous looking Ballygunner back into the lead; 1-11 to 1-10 with 52 minutes elapsed.
Brendan Maher made no mistake to level the game from a free with just four minutes to play with the Tipp men now sensing that it may just be their day.As the clock ticked towards full time the match winning score came from old fashioned hurling, a long delivery to a big man on the edge of the square.
Borris full-forward Niall Kenny caught a long delivery in the red zone and looked set to goal before losing possession at the final moment.

However, referee Johnny Murphy already had his arm in the air to signal a free into the Tipp champions.
Once again Brendan Maher stepped forward and made no mistake with what turned out to be the match winning point.Ballygunner pressed for a leveller in the three minutes of injury but defiant defending from Brendan Maher, Dan McCormack and Seamus Burke ensured that the cup was returning to Borris-Ileigh for the first time since 1986.Ballygunner came up just short here but had impressive displays from Billy O’Keeffe, Barry Coughlan, Conor Sheehan and Paddy Leavy while in attack Dessie Hutchinson and Barry O’Sullivan were best.
The winners had huge performances from their county men Brendan Maher and Dan McCormack but had plenty support from Seamus Burke, Ray McCormack, Kieran Maher and Jerry Kelly.

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