Ballygunner 1-21 De La Salle 0-15 (AET)
A wonder extra-time goal from Ballygunner full-back Barry Coughlan buried champions De La Salle in a tense quarter-final at Walsh Park on Saturday evening.
The sides were level at 14 points apiece after an error-strewn hour but the Gunners made their move in the first period of extra time when they hit 1-4 without response.
Eight minutes in, Coughlan dashed into the red zone and looped the sliotar over the head of De La Salle defender Ian Flynn before retrieving it and firing into the bottom corner.
"We like to keep him inside the 45’ but when he got going he motored on," said victorious manager Andy Moloney.
Moloney credited their resolve in turning the season around. "The players came together five weeks ago and we weren’t happy with the first three games of the championship. We needed to lift it a bit and we have the fruits of it tonight."
De La Salle manager Derek McGrath had few complaints: "When you are playing Ballygunner you need the likes of Stephen Daniels, you need a fully fit John Mullane, Eoin Madigan and Paudi Nevin. We had a few injuries over the last six weeks and fellas were playing catch-up. That’s not offering excuses, Ballygunner dominated extra-time. We had chances near the end of normal time but that’s the way it goes and fair play to Ballygunner."
Both sides appeared rusty early on but Ballygunner soon find their stride. They held a three point advantage on three separate occasions. Inter-county colleagues Pauric Mahony and Kevin Moran tussled in a fascinating match-up. Moran stuck rigidly to his centre back slot while Mahony drifted around the pitch. He slotted two points from play and was unerring from frees, five from five, including one from inside his own 65’.
De La Salle made a move before the break, reeling off four points in succession. John Mullane instigated the recovery and Adam Farrell landed a cracker from the stand side followed by three from Jake Dillon to hit the front for the first time. Mahony replied with an injury-time free to leave matters (eight points all) at half-time.
In a tense second period, scores were scarce with sweeper systems in operation. Dillon and Mahony exchanged two frees apiece before Dean Twomey and David O’Sullivan swapped points to close the third quarter (11 points apiece). The Gunners strung together back-to-back points through Brian and David O’Sullivan (0-13 to 0-11). Kevin Moran’s move to midfield proved significant as John Keane and Dillon restored parity before Moran’s shot dropped gloriously over the crossbar with two minutes remaining. Opportunities were spurned to extend that advantage and Mahony levelled from a pressure 65’.
The teams were tied on eight occasions in regulation time but the Gunners accelerated thereafter.
Scorers for Ballygunner: Pauric Mahony 0-15 (11fs, 1 65’); B Coughlan 1-0; D O’Sullivan 0-2; JJ Hutchinson, B O’Sullivan, S O’Sullivan, S Power 0-1 each.
Scorers for De La Salle: J Dillon 0-9 (7fs); D Twomey 0-2; A Farrell, J Keane, J Mullane, K Moran 0-1 each.
BALLYGUNNER: Stephen O’Keeffe; P Coughlan, B Coughlan, Stephen O’Keeffe; S Walsh, W Hutchinson, A Kirwan; Philip Mahony, S O’Sullivan; D O’Sullivan, Pauric Mahony, H Barnes; JJ Hutchinson, Barry O’Sullivan, Brian O’Sullivan.
Subs: S Power for JJ Hutchinson (57); JJ Hutchinson for D O’Sullivan (78).
DE LA SALLE: J Coady; A O’Sullivan, I Flynn, S McNulty; E Madigan, K Moran, J Kennedy; E Barrett, O Keevers; J Dillon, D Twomey, J Mullane; A Farrell, B Phelan, D Greene.
Subs: J Keane for Phelan (40); C Watt for Keevers (54); B Phelan for Farrell (60); O Keevers for Madigan (67); C Sheehan for Keevers (69); A Farrell for Greene (79).
Referee: T O’Sullivan.