County Senior Football
The Nire 2-11
Thomas Keane at Fraher Field
The Nire proved too strong for Ballinacourty at Fraher Field on Sunday afternoon last, to set up a repeat of their 1989 and 2000 showdowns against Kilrossanty at the same venue next Sunday evening. When The Nire and Ballinacourty met in the group phase earlier this year, the game threatened to spill over on more than one occasion and it was no surprise that that particular game didn’t end with 15 players each on the field of play. Last Sunday’s game also proved to be ill-tempered and it came as something of a surprise to many observers that both sides did finish the game with their respective full quotas: for this game featured 40 frees and six yellow cards, three for each team. Ballinacourty went in at half-time holding a 1-5 to 0-6 lead, after they were made play with the wind at their backs in the opening half having lost the toss. However, a well worked team goal two minutes after the restart put The Nire into the lead which they would never relinquish thereafter.
In the first half, Patrick Hurney could do no wrong, striking three points inside the opening 10 minutes to take a deserved early lead. But The Nire hit back with points from James McGrath and Craig Guiry to trail by just one.
Ballinacourty got the next score and in what was expected to be a tight game, it felt like it would be a crucial one. Patrick Hurney took a quick free, finding Brian Looby who in turn picked out John Hurney who beat Diarmuid Murphy from close range, putting his side 1-3 to 0-2 ahead. Some unfortunate scenes broke out thereafter but once ‘peace’ was restored, Patrick Hurney put his fourth score of the afternoon. He also played a part in his side’s fifth score but it was The Nire that finished the half the stronger of the two sides.
The men in gold and blue, in the course of three minutes, added scores from Conor Gleeson two) and one from Jamie Barron.
In the first minute of injury-time, Neil Montgomery bridged a 14-minute gap between Ballinacourty scores but in the fifth minute of stoppage time, Conor Gleeson again split the post to leave his side two points in arrears.
Two minutes after the restart, The Nire goaled for the first time, as James McGrath and Tholom Guiry linked up to set up Dylan Guiry for a well-taken goal to put his side in front.
Conor Gleeson and Dylan Guiry extended their side’s lead before Sean Whelan-Barrett pulled one back for ‘Courty after 39 minutes. Points from Patrick Hurney and Richie Foley followed for Ballinacourty to which Jamie Barron responded with a fine white flagger.
The Nire’s second goal duly arrived in the 53rd minute as the excellent Conor Gleeson played in Dylan Guiry for his second goal of the game.
Patrick Hurney, Shane Walsh and Conor Gleeson swapped scores either side of the hour mark which gave the eventual winners a 2-11 to 1-9 lead.
However, with an abundance of time yet to be played Ballinacourty struck their second goal in the third added minute when Conor Prunty found the net Thomas O’Gorman had initially got his body in the way of a goalmouth scramble. Just two points now separated the sides.
Deep in stoppage time (of which there were eight additional minutes) Ballinacourty won a 21-metre free which Patrick Hurney took from his hands.
But with 14 Nire players between him and the goal line, Hurney was unable to get beyond this ‘golden wall’. The ball was brought out of defence, the full-time whistle was blown and The Nire had qualified for their third successive County Senior Football Final.