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Conor Gleeson and Liam Lawlor power Nire past Ballinacourty in Waterford SFC Final

The Nire 1-17 Ballinacourty 0-8
Mary Gleeson sang a rousing rendition of ‘The Valley of The Nire’ from the centre of the stand to mark their second county success in three years and an eighth in all.

Her son Conor returned from suspension to bamboozle the Ballinacourty defence and strike five points on a freezing afternoon at Fraher Field. 

Liam Lawlor pipped Gleeson to the man of the match award, also shooting five from play and creating havoc. 

They outscored Ballinacourty 1-11 to 0-3 in the second-half to post the widest winning margin in 30 years for a SFC final.

Manager Benji Whelan lauded his lethal strike force. “When it comes to this situation in championship, where you need the proven men to stand up and do the job, they did it today. 

“What was good was the controlled and measured way that they did it in the second-half. The right men were at the end of the line every time.”

The Déise champions travel to Carbery Rangers for a Munster semi-final next Sunday. 

A provincial final loss to Austin Stacks two years ago still hurts. “It was sickening to come away from Páirc Uí Chaoimh that evening,” Whelan recalls. 

“We’ve a long journey ahead of us before we get there. The first step will be regrouping in the middle of this week and heading to Clonakilty at the weekend. That’s going to be a mammoth task.”

Courty spent 40 minutes of this contest with 14 men following Richie Foley’s dismissal. Stephen Enright and Patrick Hurney starred in green and white colours but they couldn’t extinguish the blaze at the back.

The Villagers started with the wind towards the road goal. 

Hurney nudged them into an early lead when his attempt bounced off the sod and over Tom Wall’s crossbar. Foley delivered a heavy hit on Martin Walsh which left The Nire defender concussed and unable to continue. 

Foley received his second yellow on 20 minutes for a high challenge on Gleeson. Lawlor and Gleeson kicked five points between them to fire the Ballymacarbry team 0-6 to 0-3 ahead. They lost Maurice O’Gorman to a facial injury before the break. 

Hurney converted two late frees to lessen the damage (0-6 to 0-5). The leaders wasted a goal chance when Darren Guiry’s hand pass drifted wide with Lawlor loose inside.

 Mark Ferncombe saw his fierce shot blocked two minutes into the second period. Two Brian Wall frees and a Guiry single lengthened The Nire’s advantage to four. The persistent Hurney replied with his fifth point.

Seamus Lawlor punched the ball over before Liam Lawlor supplied Gleeson. 0-11 to 0-6 after 43 minutes. Stephen Enright saved on the double from Guiry to keep their faint title hopes alive.

Another classy Gleeson point put it to bed however and Lawlor tacked on two more. The hard-working Guiry rammed to the roof of the net in injury time.

Scorers for The Nire: C Gleeson, L Lawlor 0-5 each; Darren Guiry 1-1; B Wall 0-4 (4fs); S Lawlor, K Brazil 0-1 each.

Scorers for Ballinacourty: P Hurney -7 (3fs); M Ferncombe 0-1.

The Nire: T Wall; J Walsh, T O’Gorman, M O’Gorman; J McGrath, M Walsh, J Barron; S Walsh, Dylan Guiry; S Lawlor, Darren Guiry, S Ryan; C Gleeson, B Wall, L Lawlor.

Subs: J Mulcahy for M Walsh (11); D Ryan for M O’Gorman (28); C Guiry for J Walsh (56); K Guiry for L Lawlor (58); K Brazil for B Wall (60); C Mulcahy for S Lawlor (62).

Ballinacourty: S Enright; C McCarthy, D Collins, B Looby; S O’Hare, S Briggs, R Foley; C Prunty, J Hurney; E Collins, P Hurney, M O’Halloran; S O’Donovan, G Hurney, M Ferncombe.

Subs: N Montgomery for O’Donovan (36); M Fives for E Collins (38); J Elstead for Looby (39); M Maher for Ferncombe (52).

Referee: A Kissane.