Defending champions prevail in pulsating finish

Lismore’s Dan Shanahan and Ballyduff Upper’s Ger Feeney go head to head. Photo: Michael Kiely

Lismore’s Dan Shanahan and Ballyduff Upper’s Ger Feeney go head to head. Photo: Michael Kiely

Ballyduff Upper 0-13; Lismore 0-12

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What a match. What a comeback. What champions. It has long been argued that champions die hard and this was unquestionably proven at a sodden Fraher Field on Sunday afternoon last.

And Ballyduff Upper more than lived up to that billing to ensure a semi-final clash with Abbeyside next Sunday.

A punch-drunk Lismore were left reeling following one of the greatest comebacks of the modern County Championship era. For many a day to follow, they’ll wonder what hit them during an absorbing second half.

A Ballyduff side whose title defence began in less than stellar fashion has burned slowly into one of fierce determination, sterling defiance and some quality play.

Lismore held the early advantage thanks to points to Dave Bennett and James Shanahan, the latter played in by cousins Maurice and Dan for one of the scores of the game.

Ballyduff got off the mark after 11 minutes through Brendan Hannon and the sides traded scores between then and Tim O’Byrne’s half-time whistle, with Lismore leading 0-6 to 0-4.

Within 90 seconds of the restart, John Prendergast and Dave Bennett struck to put Lismore four up and in an apparently commanding position.

While Jamie Kearney responded in the 33rd minute with a badly needed Ballyduff point, Lismore kept the foot on the accelerator, with Bennett, Maurice Shanahan (stupendously) and James Shanahan score putting Lismore six up.

Quite a few spectators were seen making their way towards as the exits. Shame on them for missing out on one of the most stirring comebacks seen on a Deise sod for years.

Between the 46th and 54th minutes, Ballyduff Upper reeled off a total of six unanswered points to draw level for the first time.

Brendan Hannon led the way in the 46th minute while Jamie Kearney added another point a minute later.

A minute later, Stephen Molumphy, who had a whale of a second half, warranting any man of the match accolades available, tagged on another white flagger.

And when Brendan Hannon and Shane Kearney superbly completed an excellent half dozen tally of sores it was all square at 11 points apiece.

By this stage thoughts of extra time loomed on the horizon, but Lismore weren’t finished yet.

Defender Shane Bennett came further out field to restore his team’s lead in the 55th minute, Brendan Hannon had the teams back on level terms again four minutes later.

Just as the game entered added on time this stupendous local derby was finally resolved and it took a breathtaking solo effort and point by Shane Kearney to put to sea on a truly remarkable victory.

This performance certainly proved beyond any shadow of doubt that Ballyduff and their title will not be easily parted, and their second half rally surely ranks as the best seen in the Championship campaign to date.

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.

Scorers: Brendan Hannon (0-5), Stephen Molumphy, Jamie Kearney, Shane Kearney (0-2 each), Adrian Power, Pa Kearney (0-1 each).

Lismore: Brendan Landers, Eoin Bennett, James O’Connor, David Howard, Peter Howard, David O’Gorman, Shane Bennett, Dave Bennett, Shane Kearney, Dan Shanahan, James Shanahan, John Prendergast, Chris O’Gorman, Sean Daly, Maurice Shanahan. Subs: Paul Prendergast for C O’Gorman, John Heneghan for S Daly.

Scorers: Dave Bennett, James Shanahan, Maurice Shanahan, John Prendergast (0-2 each), Dan Shanahan, Shane Bennett, Sean Daly, Chris O’Gorman, (0-1 each).

Referee: Tim O’Byrne (Erins Own).

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