Four Star DLS Surge to Title

Eastern Under-21 Hurling Final 2018

De La Salle 1-16
Ballygunner 1-14

Brian Flannery Reports

De La Salle staged a remarkable comeback to win a record fourth East Waterford Under-21 hurling title in a row when outscoring Ballygunner by two points at Walsh Park.The eventual winners trailed by five points at half -time and with just 10 minutes to play were still four points adrift. However De La Salle finished like a train hitting six points without reply over those closing minutes to register what for the majority of this game looked like an unlikely victory.

Ballygunner's Darragh Hogan about to collect under pressure from De Le Salle's Evan Whelan.

Ballygunner's Darragh Hogan about to collect under pressure from De Le Salle's Evan Whelan.

On an excellent surface at Walsh Park the favourites Ballygunner whom dispatched the challenge of Mount Sion in the semi-final with the minimum of fuss dominated the opening proceedings here. After 13 minutes Ballygunner led 0-07 to 0-01 with seven different scorers on manager Billy O’Sullivan’s scorecard and were unfortunate not to register an early green flag when David Dawson’s third minute drive flashed across Shaun O’Brien’s goal.

De La Salle got a badly needed boost when an Eddie Meany cross-field pass found Cormac McCann with the young speedster racing clear to shoot to the net after 16 minutes. Less than a minute later Kevin Mahony matched this score when his angled effort nestled in the top left-hand corner of the net at the Keane’s Road end, 1-07 to 1-01. Cormac Power added another Ballygunner point to increase their advantage to seven points with 20 minutes elapsed. De La Salle followed with four white flaggers in row from Thomas Douglas (3) and Eddie Meaney however two late first half points from Michael Mahony gave Ballygunner a five-point half-time lead, 1-10 to 1-05.

De La Salle began winning far more possession around centre-field on resumption and with both Mikey Costigan and Thomas Douglas converting from placed balls the margin was down to just two points, 1-12 to 1-10 after 47 minutes. Points from Kevin and Michael Mahony looked to have steadied the ship for the Gunners with the favourites now back leading by four points with 10 minutes to play. Remarkably Ballygunner failed to score again.

Cormac McCann, substitute Dylan Finn, man-of-the-match Mikey Costigan and Thomas Douglas all landed points to level the game. After 58 minutes half-back Gavin Coppinger ventured forward and hit a superb point on the run to put De La Salle into the lead for the very first time.Harry Ruddle, reintroduced with just two minutes to play after been substituted at half-time was entrusted by his team management with the taking of a long-range free from just beyond his own 65-metre line to level the game. Although well-struck, Ruddle’s effort sailed left and wide.

In injury time the excellent Cormac McCann put De La Salle two points clear with referee Michael O’Brien then calling for the ball and blowing the final whistle to signal a well celebrated victory for the Gracedieu men.
De La Salle will go in search of a fourth county Under-21 hurling title this Saturday at 2pm in Fraher Field where they meet western champions Abbeyside in the decider.

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