Sport

Na Piarsaigh bested as Ballygunner claim Munster Senior Hurling title

Ballygunner 2-14 Na Piarsaigh 2-8. Semple Stadium, Thurles. Sunday, November 18.

The 2017 Munster Senior Hurling club champions Na Piarsaigh were dethroned by Waterford’s Ballygunner in Semple Stadium on Sunday, November 18.

It was a case of old rivalries being renewed, following the Limerick men’s comprehensive victories over the Deise club in both the 2015 and 2017 Munster finals.

Paul Beary’s men got off to a dream start, with Kevin Downes finding the back of the net for Na Piarsaigh just two minutes into the game. Limerick’s All-Ireland goal scorer, Shane Dowling was on hand to further settle the side, knocking over three points in the opening half.

While Na Piarsaigh thoroughly dominated the play, points from Barry and Brian O’Sullivan and Conor Power kept Ballygunner in touch. Goal keeper, Stephen O’Keeffe also proved his worth, with a brilliant block to deny Downes his second goal of the game.

As half time loomed, Ballygunner prayers were answered when referee, Nathan Wall of Cork, awarded a penalty for Mike Casey’s challenge on O’Sullivan. Stephen O’Keeffe made the long run up the field to stand over the placed ball, besting his Na Piarsaigh counterpart, Podge Kennedy, with a blistering shot into the back of the net, tying the game just three minutes before half time.

Two more points from Pauric Mahony gave Na Piarsaigh a two-point deficit to recover facing into the second half.

Ballygunner’s late resurgence in the first half proved to be only a sign of what was to come in the second, with the Waterford men taking control of the play throughout the pitch. The Na Piarsaigh backs came under increasing pressure as the onslaught of Ballygunner attacks showed no sign of abating.

With Ballygunner stretching their legs, Mahony was relentless in attack, adding another five points to his match tally. With Fergal Hartly’s men stretching their lead to five points, scoring opportunities for the Na Piarsaigh were few and far between, with Dowling claiming the side’s first point of the second half after ten minutes.

There was no signs of Na Piarsaigh’s luck changing, as a free from Mahony hung dangerously in the air above the box, before bouncing awkwardly and slipping in past Podge Kennedy.

Despite their struggle, the Treaty men continued to battle hard and were rewarded for their efforts when Dowling’s free at the edge of the 20m line claimed Na Piarsaigh’s second goal of the game, leaving them six points down.

A similarly late goal was what saw Ballygunner defeat Clare-side, Ballyea, in the Munster Semi-Final, but unwilling to let Na Piarsaigh mount the same comeback, the Waterford champions continued to push until the final whistle, closing out the match six points in the clear.

The win marks Ballygunner’s first Munster title since 2001, and their first triumph over the Limerick men- proving that third time’s the charm when it comes to overcoming Na Piarsaigh.

 

 

Na Piarsaigh:

1 Podge Kennedy

2 Jerome Boylan (YC 47’)

3 Mike Casey

19 Thomas Grimes

5 Ronan Lynch (0-2)

6 Willian O’Donoghue

7 Cathal King

8 Alan Dempsey (YC 37’)

9 Gordon Brown

10 David Dempsey (0-1)

11 Shane Dowling (1-4 1-3f YC 57’)

12 Conor Boylan (YC 38’)

13 Adrian Breen (0-1)

14 Kevin Downes (1-0)

15 Peter Casey

Subs: Michael Foley for Thomas Grimes (41’), Conor Houlihan for Adrian Breen (49’).

 

Ballygunner:

1 Stephen O’Keeffe (1-0 Pen)

2 Eddie Hayden

3 Barry Coughlan

4 Ian Kenny

5 Philip Mahony

6 Wayne Hutchinson

7 Billy O’Keeffe (0-1 YC 39’)

8 Harley Barnes

9 Shane O’Sullivan (0-1 1f)

10 Barry O’Sullivan (0-3 YC 30’)

11 Peter Hogan

12 Pauric Mahony (1-6 1-4f)

13 Tim O’Sullivan

14 Brian O’Sullivan (0-2)

15 Conor Power (0-1)

Subs: Michael Mahony for Tim O’Sullivan (57’), JJ Hutchinson for Conor Power (61’).

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