Ballygunner 2-17; Dunhill-Fenor 0-10
Ballygunner made amends for the disappointment of losing the Minor county final 12 months ago when they enjoyed a comfortable victory over Dunhill-Fenor in Walsh Park last Saturday. It is probably just as well for the rest of the county that Mount Sion beat the McGinn Park men in the 2008 decider, as this is now Ballygunner’s third title in four years.
Having already annexed the senior title, few would bet against Ballygunner also taking the Under 21 title when they take on the winners of this Saturday’s clash between Abbeyside and Dungarvan.
The first half of this game was close and exciting with some excellent score-taking form both sides. Despite playing against the wind in the first half, Ballygunner took the lead when nippy corner-forward, Conor Power scored an excellent point from out near the right touchline.
The lead was short-lived as Dunhill-Fenor equalised through a super point from corner-forward, Sean Cheasty who stole down the left-hand touchline before slotting over.
Ballygunner enjoyed the better of the game in these early stages and made clever use of possession. With Philip Mahony and Johnny Delahunty dominant in the half-back line, they were soon three points in front, thanks to Pauric Mahony, Philip Duggan and Ross Murphy.
But, Dunhill-Fenor are made of stern stuff and inspired by team captain, Tyrone Costelloe at centre-back, they fought back with a couple of well-taken points from John Power and Eamonn Murphy.
This left the Underdogs a point adrift of their illustrious opponents but they were in front after 19 minutes when a Pierce Dunne effort put Dunhill-Fenor into the lead for the first time.
It was nip and tuck for the rest of the half and Dunhill-Fenor held on for the rest of the half to their one point advantage. Ballygunner did add on points through two from Pauric Mahony and one apiece from Ross Murphy and Philip Duggan. Dunhill-Fenor’s points in the final period of the half came from Brian Dunbar, Darragh Murray, Eamonn Murphy and a long range free from Tyrone Costelloe.
At half-time, the outsiders led on a scoreline of 0-10 to 0-9 but they could easily have been behind as Ballygunner spurned a couple of good goal chances. Firstly, Pauric Mahony’s 21 yard free came back off the crossbar and Ryan Butler made a superb save to deny Ross Murphy.
The man who opened the first-half scoring did likewise in the second half when Conor Power fired over an equaliser for Ballygunner. Now playing with the wind, Ballygunner set about their opponents with a ferocity and an intensity rarely seen at this level. They were quickly into a lead they were never to relinquish when a long run from Keith Duggan led to Harley Barnes crashing home the game’s opening goal with five minutes of the second period elapsed.
It was now all one-way traffic and Dunhill-Fenor were very much up against it. They were not helped by the fact that star player, Tyrone Costelloe picked up an injury and his movement was curtailed. Pauric Mahony took full advantage and began to make his presence felt on the scoreboard.
In the 38th minute of the game, Mahony struck two sideline balls in a row that both found the target.
Dunhill-Fenor simply had no answer to the power of the Gunners. Conor Power picked up a loose ball to fire over his third of the game.
Mahony was unflappable from placed balls and knocked over another to put his side 7 points in front.
Mahony then found his range from play and then scored two in a row to leave the Gunners in an unassailable position. As manger, Mick Mahony emptied his bench, substitute Johnny McCarthy scored a goal with virtually his first touch. It was fitting that Pauric Mahony should then score the final point of the game as his accuracy throughout was one of the features of the game. From frees, play and sidelines Mahony was a thorn in the side of Dunhill-Fenor all day. Elsewhere, Mahony’s older brother, Philip was imperious and kept Dunhill-Fenor’s dangerman Eamonn Murphy in check for long periods of the game. Jack Ruddle at full-back dominated that area of the field all day while beside him, Paddy Condon was very solid. In midfield, Harley Barnes put in a tremendous effort and never was there a player more deserving of a goal in a county final. Up front, Mahony stole the show but corner-forward, Conor Power looked dangerous and poached three points for his side.
Dunhill-Fenor will be disappointed at having gotten to a county final and lost. The final score probably did not do justice to the effort that they put in. Tyrone Costelloe was at his usual spectacular best at centre-back until a leg injury curtailed his contribution. Chris Breheny at full-back also had a good game as did the excellent Darragh Murray at midfield. Star forward, Eamonn Murphy found it difficult to get into the game but showed glimpses of his talent. It must be borne in mind that it will be not every week that he will meet a defender of Philip Mahony’s calibre.
Ballygunner: Stephen O’Keeffe, David O’Donoghue, Jack Ruddle, Paddy Condon, Stephen O’Keeffe, Philip Mahony, Johnny Delahunty, Harley Barnes, Patrick Rohan, Philip Duggan, Pauric Mahony, Michael Orpen, Keith Duggan, Ross Murphy, Conor Power. Subs: Ian Kenny for P Rohan, Chris Kervick for K Duggan, Johnny McCarthy for M Orpen.
Scorers: Pauric Mahony 0-10 (0-4f, 0-2 sideline, 0-1 65), H Barnes 1-0, J McCarthy 1-0, C Power 0-3, P Duggan 0-2, R Murphy 0-2.
Dunhill-Fenor: Ryan Butler, Paul Power, Chris Breheny, Luke Middleton, Jim Power, Tyrone Costelloe, Kieran Halley, Darragh Murray, Darragh Grace, Brian Dunbar, Eamonn Murphy, John Power, Pierce Dunne, Mark O’Reilly, Sean Cheasty. Subs: David Hayes for S Cheasty, Anthony Whelan for M O’Reilly, Cormac Daniels for B Dunbar.
Scorers: E Murphy 0-3 (0-1f), D Murray 0-2, S Cheasty 0-1, John Power 0-1, P Dunne 0-1, B Dunbar 0-1, T Costelloe 0-1f.