Champions win with late flurry

Stradbally’s Stephen Cunningham is stopped in his tracks by Ballyduff Upper’s Stephen Molumphy. | Photo: Michael Kiely

Stradbally’s Stephen Cunningham is stopped in his tracks by Ballyduff Upper’s Stephen Molumphy. | Photo: Michael Kiely

Ballyduff Upper 1-21; Stradbally 1-14

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This all-Western Senior Hurling Championship play-off at Fraher Field on Sunday afternoon was far closer than the final scoreline might suggest. Yes, defending champions Ballyduff are back on track towards holding onto their crown, but it was only in the closing stages that they eventually saw off the challenge of a gallant Stradbally outfit who, already short the services of long-term injury victim Ger Power, also received a further late blow with the withdrawal of sterling defended Kevin Coffey on account of a recent knock,

Even so, the Taysiders battled bravely every yard of the way and remained very much in contention practically up to the final five minutes of a very sporting and entertaining affair. It actually started well for Stradbally with Niall Curran slotting them into the lead inside three minutes, only to see themselves go into arrears two minutes later when Shane Kearney goaled for the champions.

Even so it remained touch and go for most of an exciting opening half: equality existing on three separate occasions during the opening quarter alone, but the challengers missed a golden opportunity in the 16th minute – but credit a great save from Adrian Power from Shane Ahearne. Niall Curran failed to connect properly with the partial clearance and a real goal chance was lost.

The teams continued to trade points and it was still all to play for at the halfway stage, when the score board read 1-9 to 1-7 in favour of the title-holders.

Strong finish

A treble exchange of points got the early stages of the second period off to the best possible start and by the 39th minute the difference was down to the minimum, 1-12 to 1-11, and it was still wide open with eight minutes of normal time remaining: 1-16 to 1-13 in the champions’ favour.

But Ballyduff, who had set their hearts on qualifying for the knock-out stages, put in a truly pulsating finish and a flurry of points from Brendan Hannon, Pa Kearney, John Twomey and Seamus Hannon eventually put the outcome, firmly and squarely beyond Stradbally’s reach.

Workmanlike

The winners, whose championship winning prospects have soared as a result of this hard-earned triumph, such as John Twomey, Tom Feeney and Ger Feeney, who formed a tremendous half back line, together with goalie Adrian Power, Seamus Hannon, Patrick Kearney, Stephen Molumphy and Brendan Hannon, played significant roles in fashioning this latest success; while for Stradbally John Coffey – who gave a ‘man of the match display in the pivotal defensive role – ably assisted by Michael Walsh, Oliver Costelloe, John Hearne, Stephen Cunningham, Niall Curran and Trevor Curran in goal.

Ballyduff Upper: Adrian Power, Patrick Molumphy, Thomas Molumphy, Michael Drislane, John Twomey, Tom Feeney, Ger Feeney, Seamus Hannon, Kenneth Geary, Jamie Kearney, Shane Kearney, Brian Kearney, Patrick Kearney, Stephen Molumphy, Brendan Hannon. Sub: Sean Cunningham for K Geary.

Scorers: Brendan Hannon 0-8 (frees), Shane Kearney 1-1, Pa Kearney 0-4, Stephen Molumphy and Seamus Hannon 0-2 each, Brian Kearney, Ger Feeney, Sean Twomey and Jamie Kearney 0-1 each.

Stradbally: Trevor Curran, Andy Doyle, Oliver Costelloe, Tomas Walsh, Shane Lannon, John Coffey, Paddy Doyle, Robert Ahearne, John Hearne, Stephen Cunningham, Michael Walsh, Trevor Costelloe, Niall Curran, Shane Ahearne, George Walsh.

Scorers: Shane Ahearne 0-7 (0-4 frees), Niall Curran 1-2, John Coffey and Stephen Cunningham 0-2 each, Robert Ahearne 0-1.

Referee: Maurice Condon (Clashmore).

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