Michael Kiely

Referee Michael Wadding keeps control as John Mullane receives attention during their Waterford Senior hurling championship third-round victory over Ballyduff Upper at Fraher Field. | Photos: Michael Kiely

De La Salle 3-24; Ballyduff Upr 2-18 

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They may have failed to impress in the first round the first two rounds of the championship, but on Saturday last at Fraher Field against previously unbeaten Ballyduff Upper De La Salle showed that they will not relinquish their title without one hell of a fight.

We have seen some cracking contests already in this year’s championship but you’ll go a long way to see a better game than this.

The meeting of the 2007 and ’08 champions was a cracker from the first second to the last and for much of the game it would have taken a brave person to call a winner. The hour’s play produced some cracking hurling with a total of 47 scores, many of which were of the highest calibre.

For the reigning Munster champions, John Mullane excelled. Bryan Phelan also stood out, as did Kevin Moran and James Quirke, who was restored to the starting team for the first time since the All-Ireland semi-final against Cushendall. For Ballyduff, Brendan Hannon was his usual self, as were Stephen Molumphy and Seamus Hannon.

Ten minutes in and the westerners led by 0-4 to 0-3 with the first seven scores coming from Paudie Nevin, Derek McGrath, James Quirke, Shane Kearney, Brendan Hannon and Stephen Molumphy, in that order.

The first goal of the game came on 11 minutes when, following good work by Derek McGrath, Mullane gave county colleague Adrian Power no chance in the Ballyduff Upper goal.

By 20 minutes De La Salle had added points from Phelan, Quirke and a brace for Mullane, while Ballyduff Upper, thanks to three Brendan Hannon points and one from Jamie Kearney, trailed 1-7 to 0-8.

The final 10 minutes of the opening half proved a lean spell for the eventual winners as they only scored two points from Conan Watt and Mullane, while Ballyduff raised five white flags in the same period, four of them coming from Brendan Hannon and one from Brendan Kearney to send the ’07 champions in at the break leading by 0-13 to 1-9.

Rose to challenge

Words to describe De La Salle’s second-half performance are hard to find. They were simply too good in almost every sector of the field and also outscored Ballyduff decisively.

Ten minutes into the second half were two points in front. Phelan, Mullane and Quirke all pointed, while Ballyduff’s single response came from first-half sub Richard Whelan.

Ballyduff were awarded a penalty on 41 minutes by referee Michael Wadding after Jamie Kearney was tripped while attacking the De La Salle goal. Brendan Hannon stepped up to face the three De La Salle men on the line who saved his effort, but, amid a goalmouth scramble, Hannon was on hand to poke the sliotar over the line.

Quirke added a point before Derek McGrath scored a second De La Salle goal after latching onto a lengthy puck-out from Stephen Brenner. Quirke and Twomey added scores in a three-minute spell to put them 2-17 to 1-14 to the good with 10 minutes left.

Quirke added another De La Salle point on 51 before Patrick Kearney got a second Ballyduff Upper goal with seven minutes remaining.

But any hopes Ballyduff had of mounting a third successive grandstand finish were quickly dashed as Quirke with a brace and Mullane added points, before Alan O’Neill, a second-half sub, left his mark with a goal within two minutes of coming on, and then adding a point as the 60 drew to a close.

Seamus and Brendan Hannon did score points for Ballyduff Upper in the closing stages, but it wasn’t enough as Quirke and Phelan hit stoppage time scores for De La Salle to seal a superb victory.

De La Salle: S Brenner; M Doherty, I Flynn, P Kennedy; D Russell, K Moran, D Green; P Nevin, C Watt; J Quirke, B Phelan, J Mullane; D Twomey, B Farrell, A D McGrath. Sub: A O’Neill for Farrell.

Scorers: J Quirke 0-11, J Mullane 1-5, D McGrath, A O’Neill 1-1 each, B Phelan 0-3, P Nevin, C Watt, D Twomey 0-1 each.

Ballyduff: A Power; P Molumphy, T Molumphy, M Drislane; J Twomey, T Feeney, G Feeney; S Hannon, B Kearney; S Kearney, S Molumphy, J Kearney; S Cunningham, B Hannon, P Kearney. Subs: R Whelan for Cunningham, K Geary for B Kearney.

Scorers: B Hannon 1-9, P Kearney 1-0, S Kearney, S Molumphy S Hannon 0-2 each, J Kearney, B Kearney, R Whelan 0-1 each.

Referee: M Wadding (Roanmore).