Liam Walsh, Fourmilewater in possession and finds himself locked in by Brendan Hannon and Patrick Kearney Ballyduff during their county SHC match in Lismore.

Liam Walsh, Fourmilewater in possessiofinds himself locked in by Brendan Hannon and Patrick Kearney Ballyduff during their county SHC match in Lismore.

Ballyduff Upper 1-22; Fourmilewater 2-17

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Stephen Molumphy-inspired Ballyduff, mounted a spectacular second-half comeback to rein in a hugely impressive Fourmilewater side in Lismore last Saturday evening.

This match was moved from Cappoquin during the day and it must be said that it was a good decision as the Lismore turf held up superbly during the match.

Ballyduff were given a huge boost beforehand when County goalkeeper Adrian Power was deemed fit enough to start the game having had a cartilage operation three weeks ago.

Despite Power’s presence, Fourmilewater were the first to settle and they led by 0-3 to 0-1 in the early stages. Fourmilewater’s opening score coming from county star Shane Walsh with the hugely reliable Richard Fenton also grabbing a couple. Ballyduff’s reply came from a Brendan Hannon free.

Jamie Kearney added a superb point for Ballyduff after running nearly 50 yards with the ball on his stick. Another free from Hannon levelled the score on 10 minutes.

It became tit for tat after that with Brendan Hannon and Stephen Molumphy on the mark for the 2007 champions and Richard Fenton keeping the scoreboard ticking over for Fourmilewater. Indeed between the 16th and 24th minute, Fenton scored four points as he attempted to lay down his mark on this game. Thomas O’Gorman also chipped in with a point during this period as Fourmile’ threatened to take over.

Another Jamie Kearney point from play and another free from Brendan Hannon finished Ballyduff’s scoring for the half after a delightful sideline cut from Fourmilewater’s Alan Lawlor raised another white flag for the men from the Nire Valley.

When referee Tim O’Byrne blew the half-time whistle, Fourmilewater led by 12 points to 9 and they began the second half in a determined mood to put the game to bed as two points from Shane Walsh increased their lead to five.

A free from Brendan Hannon stopped the rot for Ballyduff but Fourmilewater went straight back up the field and grabbed a goal through Munster footballer Thomas O’Gorman. Ballyduff failed to clear a long ball into the square and O’Gorman latched on to a loose ball to fire a low shot to the corner past Adrian Power. Richard Fenton added a fine point from play to increase the lead to eight.

Ballyduff responded with 3 points in as many minutes through Seamus Hannon, Brendan Hannon and yet another from the hero of the ’07 county final, Jamie Kearney.

On 43 minutes Shane Walsh dribbled hockey-style through the Ballyduff full-back line and his flicked shot trickled across the Ballyduff line. As the umpire raised the green flag, Ballyduff claimed that the ball had gone outside the post and in through the side netting. However, their claims fell on deaf ears and the goal was given. Walsh’s goal put Fourmilewater in the lead on a score of 2-15 to 0-13 and the game looked up for Ballyduff.

Ballyduff, feeling a little peeved at the award of the suspicious goal raised their game and two frees from the unerring Brendan Hannon reduced the deficit to six points. With 10 minutes left on the clock, Ballyduff corner-forward Pa Kearney won a ball on the Fourmilewater 21-yard line and headed for the goal. His shot was saved well by Conor Ryan but the rebound was scrambled over the line by the in-rushing Shane Kearney. The game was well and truly in the melting pot.

Richard Fenton scored from a 65 to keep Fourmilewater’s noses in front but Shane Kearney followed up his goal with an excellent point from play to keep Ballyduff’s hopes of pulling off a miraculous comeback alive.

Richard Fenton pointed yet another free for Fourmilewater before Stephen Molumphy took over. Ballyduff moved the Waterford co-captain closer to goal where he began to have a huge influence. Two frees and a 65 from Hannon left the minimum between the teams as the clocked ticked towards the hour.

A well-taken point from Jamie Kearney (a serious contender for man of the match) drew Ballyduff level. The wind was taken out of Fourmilewater’s sails by this comeback and there was only going to be one winner from here. Midfielder Brian Kearney grabbed the point that put Ballyduff in front and it seemed hugely appropriate that it was Stephen Molumphy who grabbed the final point of the night.

On their second half performance, Ballyduff will be serious contenders to win this year’s county championship. They look an extremely well-balanced side with a nice blend of youth and experience. In Adrian Power they have one of the best young goalkeepers in the country while Tom Molumphy provides a good anchor to the full-back line.

Tom Feeney used all his experience to great effect during the game, lending great advice to the younger heads around him. The athleticism of Brian Kearney and Seamus Hannon at midfield will prove invaluable later on in the year. In the forwards Jamie Kearney had his finest game since the 2007 county final while Brendan Hannon was flawless from frees.

Once again, Ballyduff can be thankful that they have a man of the calibre of Stephen Molumphy in their ranks. Ballyduff pulled off a masterstroke by moving Molumphy closer to goal in the second half. From here, he was able to win Adrian Power’s booming puck outs and put his team on the attack. Fourmilewater had no choice but to foul Molumphy and Brendan Hannon was more than willing to tap over the resultant frees.

On the night Fourmilewater were well served by Liam Lawlor, Paul Horkan, Shane Walsh, Alan Lawlor and most especially Richard Fenton.

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

Scorers: B Hannon 0-12f, J Kearney 0-4, S Kearney 1-1, S Molumphy 0-2, B Kearney 0-2, S Hannon 0-1.

Fourmilewater: C Ryan, L Walsh, L Lawlor, J Walsh, Shane Lawlor, B Wall, Seamus Lawlor, P Horkan, T Walsh, R Fenton, M Walsh, M O’Gorman, A Lawlor, S Walsh, T O’Gorman.

Scorers: R Fenton 0-9 (0-4f 0-1 65), S Walsh 1-3, T O‘Gorman 1-1, A Lawlor 0-3 (0-1 Sideline), T Walsh 0-1.