Gunners goners

Tallow 1-10; Ballygunner 1-8

Little did the fans know it at the time, but this opening county senior hurling championship quarter final at Fraher Field last Sunday would stand as the poor relation alongside the super charged second game that followed it.

The mediocrity of the fare however won’t cause Tallow any undue concern as they now prepare for a semi-final showdown with De La Salle leaving Ballygunner to reflect ruefully on what might have been.

It was game that never really ignited in the way it was expected to, but after a slow and hesitant start the westerners finally got their act together and their strong second half surge was just about good enough to see them past the faltering Gunners.

With Davy Fitzgerald a notable presence among the huge attendance Tallow’s victory was a shock of sorts, but all credit to them for recovering as they did from their near disastrous start, and overall they were good value for their two point victory.

Early dominance

The early sequences were so totally dominated by Ballygunner that Tallow followers must have been fearing a rout for their side. Paul Flynn’s pointed free gave them a lead they would retain for the greater part of the hour, and Flynn was also centrally involved two minutes later when he set up Gearoid O’Connor with an inch perfect pass and the flying corner forward hammered home a goal of vintage quality from close range.

Two more points followed from O’Connor and Flynn (free) and with just eight minutes on the clock the Gunners were six points (1-3) to the good without a solitary Tallow response.

But with James Murray settling in to give a five star display at centre back, and the accurate free-taking of teenager Thomas Ryan also reaping a tidy dividend, Tallow wormed their back into contention and were just four points adrift, 1-6 to 0-5, at the interval. It is a measure of their shortcomings in attack however that only one of five those points came from play and even then the scorer was not an attacker but wing back Mark O’Brien.

Injury blow

The Gunners resumed under the handicap of the enforced withdrawal of Gearoid O’Connor with a hand injury, and given the effectiveness of his first half display he would prove to be a monumental loss to them. Ultimately in fact his loss may well have cost the Gunners their place in the semi-finals.

The Gunners however still looked to have control of the game, but Tallow came out of traps like a good greyhound on the resumption and speedily posted their deadly intent with rapid fire points from Shane “F” McCarthy, William Henley, and John Paul Grey, to narrow the deficit to the minimum.

Ballygunner were visibly toiling at that stage, and their cause wasn’t helped either when the great Fergal Hartley lasted a mere four minutes after being brought into the game early in the second half. The thigh injury that had kept him out of the starting fifteen in the first instance flared up again and he was forced to make an early departure.

Another substitute, Stephen Power, had the Gunners opening score of the second half in the 39th minute after being set up by Flynn, but it was back to the minimum again within sixty seconds when Ryan unerringly pointed another free.

Henley’s goal

The lead for Tallow – for the first time – came in the 44th minute when William Henley’s effort wormed its way to the net, and with the alarm bells ringing the Gunners introduced sprung Hartley from the bench in the hope that he could turn things around.

Fate ordained otherwise however, and one wonders have we seen the last appearance by the great centre back in the red and black colours he has adorned with such distinction throughout a glorious career.

A superb point from a 45 metre sideline cut by Ryan gave Tallow even clearer breathing space but the Gunners, on reflection, will rue misses by Flynn and Shane O’Sullivan from very scoreable ranges as they piled on the pressure in a last ditch bid to save the game.

Flynn did reduce the deficit to a brace of points with a super score in the 57th minute but the Tallow defence, continuing to be superbly marshalled by James Murray and David O’Brien on the fringe of the square, held firm for a victory that was hard earned but well deserved.

Not the most fine tuned of performances by the Tallow but sufficient on the day to get them over a tricky hurdle. Their star man in defence was centre back James Murray with David O’Brien rock solid directly behind him, and while Aidan Kearney hurled solidly he wasn’t quite as dominant as would have been expected of him.

Paul O’Brien played a captain’s role in the middle of the field with young Thomas Ryan and goal scorer William Henley best in an attack that sorely missed the injured Paul Kearney.

For the Gunners it was a day that fell far short of their best and they failed wholly to press home the advantage they accrued on the scoreboard from their dominance of the opening quarter. The loss of Gearoid O’Connor at half time was a massive one, and the enforced departure too of Fergal Hartley didn’t help their cause.

But on a day when too many of their key players simply didn’t perform they can have no serious argument about their championship exit.

Tallow: S. O’Sullivan; S. McCarthy, D. O’Brien, K. Kearney; A. Kearney, J. Murray, M. O’Brien; P. Murray, P. O’Brien; W. Henley, K. Geary, T. Ryan; B. Sheehan, S. F. McCarthy, L. McCarthy; Subs: J. P. Grey for Sheehan; W. Murphy for P. Murray.

Scorers: T. Ryan (0-6, 0-5 frees, 0-1 sideline); W. Henley (1-1); M. O’Brien, S. F. McCarthy, J. P. Grey (0-1) each.

Ballygunner: P. Haran; V. Molloy, A. Kirwan, C. Kehoe; D. O’Sullivan, S. O’Sullivan, W. Hutchinson; A. Moloney, J. Kearney; P. Mahony, P. Flynn, S. Walsh; G. O’Connor, B. Mullane. J. J. Hutchinson; Subs: M. Kearney for O’Connor (inj); S. Power for Walsh; F. Hartley for J. Kearney, S. O’Keeffe for Haran (inj), W. Kiely for Hartley (inj).

Scorers: P. Flynn (0-5, 0-3 frees); G. O’Connor (1-1); S. Walsh, S. Power (0-1) each.

Referee: T. O’Sullivan, Cappoquin.

For full story see The Munster Express newspaper or
subscribe to our Electronic edition.

Leave a Comment