Ballinhassig 2-12 Ballymartle 1-14
Success once more for Ballinhassig, but only just.
Guided by the unerring accuracy of freetaker Brendan Holland, the club secured the three-in-a-row of junior hurling titles at Kinsale yesterday, but it was a far cry from their two most recent final victories.
Brian Duggan’s men had eight points to spare in the 2011 triumph over Carrigaline, chiselled down to five in last summer’s scalp of Kinsale, this latest win, however, required the straining of every sinew.
Twice Ballymartle narrowed the deficit to the minimum late on and though Brendan Holland responded on the first occasion, the Blues were left sweating when David O’Mahony nailed the target on the hour mark.
Indeed, Ballymartle’s sole equalising opportunity would fall to the impressive full-forward, but his speculative effort from out the field drifted wide. From the ensuing puckout came the final whistle and the sheer relief on every Ballinhassig player said it all.
Ballymartle had enjoyed a 1-8 to 1-6 lead at the break, with Jack Dwyer further stretching their advantage upon the change of ends. The underdogs deservedly led, dictating proceedings from the moment David O’Mahony clinically cancelled out Eanna Heffernan’s goal strike eight minutes in.
In the wake of Dwyer’s effort however, Eustace Burke’s outfit inexplicably lost focus and, crucially, lost momentum. Holland kick-started the Ballinhassig revival in knocking over two placed balls. And then came the game’s key score, Eanna Heffernan latching onto James Finn’s probing delivery for his second goal of the decider. Centre-back Sean Coleman landed an absolute belter from distance in the subsequent action and, all of a sudden, Ballinhassig , from a position of three in arrears, had moved three clear.
John Coleman, having missed two frees in the prior passages, showed terrific nerve to land Ballymartle’s first score in 17 minutes, but their opponents motored relentlessly on, Holland (free) and James Finn raising white flags. Trailing by four with less than ten minutes to go, surely there was no way back for Ballymartle.
No scripts had been handed out to them however and David O’Mahony swung over three points to ensure a rousing finish, though the plot still carried the familiar outcome.
Success once more for Ballinhassig.
Scorers for Ballinhassig: B Holland (0-8, 0-7 frees), E Heffernan (2-0), S Coleman (0-2, 1 65), P Coleman, J Finn (0-1 each).
Scorers for Ballymartle: D O’Mahony (1-4), J Coleman (0-4), L Corry (0-2), E Allen, J Dwyer, E Kelly, N Crowley (0-1 each).
BALLINHASSIG: J Coleman; R Reynolds, J Rearden, P O’Leary; J Holland, S Coleman, S Sheehan; P Lombard, C Reynolds; B Holland, J Finn, J Mullaney; P Coleman, M Walsh, E Heffernan.
Subs: C Tyers for P Coleman (58).
BALLYMARTLE: P Allen; G Hallissey, B Higgins, DJ O’Callaghan; B Dwyer, Evin Allen, I Coleman; Eoin Allen, L Corry; K McCarthy, N Crowley, J Dwyer; J Coleman, D O’Mahony, E Kelly.
Subs: E Healy for Dwyer (52), M O’Mahony for Kelly (60).
Referee: Nathan Wall (Carrigaline).