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Murray strikes late to save Bishopstown from drop

Bishopstown 0-13 Ballinhassig 0-12
ONE puck of the ball decided this Cork SHC relegation final replay at Cloughduv on Saturday evening.

In a gripping contest that hung in the balance up to the final whistle, a penalty drilled over the crossbar by skipper Thomas Murray three minutes into stoppage time proved to be the decisive score. Elation then for Bishopstown as they retained their senior hurling status, but a cruel blow for Ballinhassig who missed out by the minimum.

They will have to go back to Premier intermediate hurling as they were left crushed by that late winning point having held their own for most of the hour. But, in an extraordinary finish credit to Bishopstown who boldly plundered the winner in dramatic fashion.

Ballinhassig got off to an assured start, in front 0-3 to 0-0 after 14 minutes. They had the breeze to their backs and picked off points from wing back Brendan Coleman, Darren Dineen and Declan O’Sullivan, before Ger McGlacken opened the ‘Town account. They might have been closer only for Martin Coleman denying Ronan Conway and Denis Crowley.

Bishopstown drew level through two Murray frees and another from the excellent Pa Cronin. However, Ballinhassig took control coming up to the interval. Declan Healy and Brendan Lombard were dogged in defence whilst the Dineen brothers Steven and Darren, Diarmuid Duggan, Michael Collins and Danny O’Callaghan were creating and taking chances.

Cronin then broke the deadlock, firing a huge point for Bishopstown to leave them trailing 0-8 to 0-6 at half time.

The big crowd were treated to a pulsating second 30 minutes. Significantly, Ballinhassig lost Duggan to an elbow injury shortly after Coleman rifled over a long-range point a minute into the restart. Murray thenconverted a couple of frees and one from play and the scoreboard was even once more on 40 minutes. Darren Dineen and Shane McCarthy opened the gap again as Bishopstown made double substitutions in their forward area.

With both defences on top, scores were limited. Nonetheless, the city side, spurred on by Shane O’Neill, battled gamely and a trio of points from Cronin, Murray (free) and McGlacken edged them ahead for the first time in the 57th minute. As the tension rose, Declan O’Sullivan grabbed the equaliser a minute from time. Crucially, the south-east team were awarded a free around the middle and, while Coleman left it to Darren Dineen, his attempt went narrowly wide.

From the puck out Ian Jones’ delivery found Crowley. He was dragged down and with time up Thomas Murray took his point from the penalty to secure the win. Ballinhassig had one last chance, but heartbreakingly for them it missed the target.

Scorers for Bishopstown: T Murray 0-8 (6frees, 0-1 pen), P Cronin 0-3, G McGlacken 0-2.

Scorers for Ballinhassig: M Collins, D Dineen, D O’Callaghan (1f), D O’Sullivan 0-2 each, B Coleman, S McCarthy, D Duggan, M Coleman (free) 0-1 each.

BISHOPSTOWN: K O’Halloran; B Healy, J O’Sullivan, B Lane; I Jones, S O’Neill, M Driscoll; P Cronin, B Coffey; G McGlacken, T Murray (capt), J Murphy; B Murray, R Conway, D Crowley.

Subs: C Lutrell for Murphy, D Lester for B. Murray (both 45).

BALLINAHASSIG: M Coleman; Steve McCarthy, D Healy, E Finn; B O’Sullivan, B Lombard, B Coleman; Shane McCarthy, P Coomey; S Dineen, D Dineen, D O’Callaghan (capt); D O’Sullivan, D Duggan, M Collins.

Subs: P Lombard for P Coomey (ht), M Sheehan for D Duggan (inj. 33), B Holland for M Sheehan (53).

Referee: E Sheehy (Newcestown).