County Senior Hurling Championship
Brian Flannery Reports
Ballygunner’s quest for sixth successive senior hurling title continues with facile 16-point victory over neighbours and rivals Passage to move on to the semi-final stage with a minimum of fuss.
Passage were the last team in Waterford to beat Ballygunner in knockout championship, dating all the way back to the 2013 county final. Since that remarkable comeback where Passage came from seven points down with less than 10 minutes to play to win by three points, Ballygunner have being exacting heavy revenge.
Passage had the aid of the breeze in the opening half and despite early points from Killian Fitzgerald and Liam Flynn; Ballygunner’s superiority was soon to assert itself.
Passage played with five forwards leaving Philip Mahony the free defender in black and red while his county colleague Noel Connors occupied a similar position at the opposite end of the pitch.
Ballygunner looked very comfortable in possession with their precision passing game negating any possible influence by Noel Connors in his sweeping role.In contrast Passage were clumsy in their deliveries out of defence and far too often failed to hit their target.
Ballygunner were already leading by three points when the outstanding Dessie Hutchinson rifled a cross-field pass perfectly for Peter Hogan to shoot to the net and with only 20 minutes on the clock this game looked done with Ballygunner leading 1-8 to 0-5. Dessie Hutchinson, who turned in a man of the match performance, added two more points before the interval with Pauric Mahony also landing a late point to bring his first half haul to seven points. A Killian Fitzgerald free was the lone response from the challengers with the margin out to eight points, 1-11 to 0-6 as they headed to the dressing rooms.
With the breeze at their backs Ballygunner’s handsome interval margin soon turned into a complete rout.
Dessie Hutchinson continued his rampage through the Passage defence hitting six points in all from play over the hour with further second half goals from Michael Mahony and Peter Hogan swelling the ‘Gunners margin.
Their second major came after 49 minutes when Peter Hogan played Michael Mahony in on goal with his shot squirming under the body of Eddy Lynch.
If ‘Gunners second goal was somewhat routine their third was sublime. In the final minute Peter Hogan, with an obvious point scoring opportunity on hand, opted to drive the sliotár at the goal and had the rigging shaking when his pile driver went in off the angle of the post and crossbar for the score of the game.
Owen Connors had sent a 20m to the net after 53 minutes but was far too little and far too late to impact the game.The plaudits here go Dessie Hutchinson, Pauric Mahony and Peter Hogan with Gary Cullinane, Adam Roche and Pa Walsh best for the men from Passage