Gunners Survive Stern Test To Set Up Clash With Ballyhea

Munster Club Senior Hurling
Championship Quarter-Final

Ballygunner 1-18
Midleton 2-13

Brian Flannery Reports

Waterford champions Ballygunner survived a stern examination from beaten Cork finalists Midleton to prevail by two points in this Munster Club Championship Quarter-Final at Walsh Park.
Ballygunner were the hottest of favourites coming into Sunday’s game against a Midleton side that had lost the Cork County Final by 10 points to Imokilly. As the Cork winners were a Group team it was Midleton that was nominated for Munster club representation.Having sailed through another County campaign, the five in a row Waterford champion s had to come from behind trailing here by four points at the interval; to get the better of their spirited opponents.

Ballygunner’s Conor Power scores his late match winning goal against Midleton at Walsh Park and then wheels away in celebration. 					| Photos: Noel Browne

Ballygunner’s Conor Power scores his late match winning goal against Midleton at Walsh Park and then wheels away in celebration. | Photos: Noel Browne

A goal from corner forward Conor Power on 49 minutes helped Ballygunner regain the lead and put Fergal Hartley’s men back in the driving seat. Ballygunner held that lead to the final whistle with talisman Pauric Mahony once again the scorer in chief with 12 points from placed balls.The eventual winners began well, leading by 0-3 without reply after just four minutes. Ballygunner continued to make the running and looked comfortable with a 0-6 to 0-2 advantage with 12 minutes elapsed. Indeed, all of Ballygunner’s opening scores came from the stick of Pauric Mahony.
However, two first half goals from Conor Lehane and Cormac Beausang left the home side reeling. After 21 minutes, directly from a 20-metre free, Conor Lehane blasted the ball to the net to level matters (1-5 to 0-8). This boost was followed with points from the excellent Cormac Walsh and Patrick White as the Ballygunner rear-guard was struggling with the pace of the Midleton attack. The Corkmen had a second major in first half injury time when Tommy O’Connell set up Cormac Beausang for a goal. The Magpies were good value for their 2-8 to 0-10 point interval lead.
Two early second half points from Tim O’Sullivan and substitute Peter Hogan narrowed the margin to a single point after just 33 minutes.

The game’s turning point however arrived in the 49th minute when Conor Power won possession along the end-line, turning his marker inside out before shooting low to the net from a difficult angle, putting the Gunners a point ahead by 1-14 to 2-10.Midleton registered late points from James Nagle and Cormac Beausang but the metronomic free taking of Pauric Mahony, who hit 12 points in all (five in the second half) was just enough to keep the home side ahead to the final whistle. Midleton did go searching for a late match winning goal but the impressive Philip Mahony and Shane O’Sullivan showed all their experience in defending Midleton’s last ditch efforts. Ballygunner will benefit from possibly their first real test of the year with substitutes Peter Hogan and JJ Hutchinson both making an impact on introduction.Ballygunner will now meet Clare champions, Ballyhea

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