Gunners ease into quarter-finals

Ballygunner\'s Alan Kirwan outjumps Ardmore\'s Eoin Foley.

Ballygunner's Alan Kirwan outjumps Ardmore's Eoin Foley.

Ballygunner . . . 0-17; Ardmore . . . 1-8

Without breaking too much sweat, and never having to move into overdrive, Ballygunner scored their expected victory over Ardmore in the county senior hurling championship at Fraher Field last Sunday and duly qualified also for the last eight in the title race.

Mission accomplished would probably best sum up the Gunners afternoon work, but they’ll know that this wasn’t a championship winning performance overall and that more, much more, will be required of them if they are to regain the title they last held in 2004.

It was a poor game that lacked any real championship bite or fervour. There was almost an inevitability about the outcome from an early stage, and while a depleted Ardmore offered stiff and stern opposition for most of the way they were essentially outclassed by a far superior winning side.

No Paul Flynn for the Gunners and there would seem now to be a major question mark centring around a return by him at any time in the immediate future. Given that their attack failed to breach the Ardmore defence even once is the sure fire guarantee that “Flynner’s” absence is still sorely missed.

Ardmore of course were even more depleted, short no fewer than nine of last season’s championship line up. That kind of handicap was simply too great to carry into a game against opposition like the Gunners, and while they get all the plaudits in the world for endeavour and effort these attributes were never going to be good enough of themselves to carry the day for the Seasiders.

In command

Almost from the throw-in the Gunners took control, and with Shane O’Sullivan at his very best in the middle of the field virtually all of that early traffic was in the direction of the Ardmore goal. O’Sulivan pointed them into a first minute lead, and when J.J. Hutchinson, Andy Moloney, Stephen Power (2 frees), Gearoid O’Connor and Michael Kearney all found the range to ease them 0-6 to 0-1 in front at the end of the opening quarter one feared the worst for Ardmore. That lone Ardmore point came from a Seamus Prendergast free on ten minutes, the first of a fine 1-5 contribution from the county star who started at midfield but played for the greater part of the game at centre forward. The best goal chance of the half fell to Ardmore in the 24th minute and the Gunners can thank Pat Haran who brilliantly kept out Prendergast’s piledriver. It was the only time the ‘keeper was seriously called into the action but he well and truly showed his worth in that instance with what truly was a quality stop. It seemed to give Ardmore a definite lift however and it was they who had the two final scores of the half when James O’Donnell and Cathal Hennessey pointed to leave the Gunners handily in front, 0-8 to 0-3, at the break.

In many ways the second half was a replica of the first with the Gunners running the show, yet unable to completely obliterate the dogged Ardmore resistance. Realistically however it was all over as a meaningful contest within seven minutes of the restart when the winners tacked on four more points – two from Shane O’Sullivan frees and one each from Stephen Power (free) and a Michael Kearney beauty.

Definitely no way back now for Ardmore although Seamus Prendergast gave them just a flicker of hope when he smashed a semi penalty to the net in the 54th minute, awarded for a foul on his brother Patrick within minutes of his introduction as a substitute. Within another minute he pointed a free and suddenly the margin was down to four points. But that was as close as Ardmore would get to the winners who pulled away again with three more pointed frees from Stephen Power and one from play by the outstanding Shane O’Sullivan. The final score fell, fittingly perhaps, to Seamus Prendergast but it was the case of too little too late for the losers.

From a Gunners’ perspective it was a display sufficient for the needs of the occasion, but one strongly suspects they will have to move it up several notches for the more searching tests that lie ahead.

Sadly, for Ardmore, it now looks all about another relegation dogfight which they have become far too familiar with in the past two championship seasons.

Teams andscorers

Ballygunner: P. Haran, J. Kearney, F. Hartley, C. Kehoe, P. Mahony, A. Kirwan, W. Hutchinson, D. O’Sullivan, S. O’Sullivan, S. Power, T. Power, A. Moloney, M. Kearney, J.J. Hutchinson, G. O’Connor, Subs; B. Coughlan for Moloney (inj); R. Hearne for T. Power.

Scorers: S. Power (0-6, frees); S. O’Sullivan (0-4, 0-3 frees); G. O’Connor (0-2); M. Kearney (0-2); A. Moloney, J. J. Hutchinson, D. O’Sullivan (0-1) each.

Ardmore: Clinton Hennessy, K. Murphy, D. Prendergast, M. Hennessy, A. North, J. Hennessy, S. Leahy, S. Prendergast, D. Hennessy, E. Foley, P. Gleeson, G. North; A. O’Donnell. J. O’Donnell, Cathal Hennessy, Subs; P. Prendergast, for Murphy; C. Foley for G. North.

Scorers: S. Prendergast (1-5, 1-0 pen, 0-4 frees); J. O’Donnell (0-2); Cathal Hennessy(0-1).

Referee: Jim Murphy, Mount Sion.

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