Ballygunner win first Munster hurling club title since 2001

Ballygunner win first Munster hurling club title since 2001
Photo by Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

Ballygunner (Waterford) 2-8 Na Piarsaigh (Limerick) 2-14

Ballygunner were crowned Munster hurling club champions in Semple Stadium, the Waterford side collecting a historic first title since 2001.

Na Piarsaigh defended the Town End and began with a terrific solo goal from Kevin Downes. Conor Power and Brian O’Sullivan hit points in return; Shane Dowling hit a free and it was 1-1 to 0-2 on five minutes.

Dowling (two) and Alan Dempsey eased Na Piarsaigh further ahead before Barry O’Sullivan responded: 1-4 to 0-3 11 minutes in. Brian O’Sullivan got a sight of goal but Padraig Kennedy saved well at the expense of a point.

Harley Barnes and Ronan Lynch swapped points before Adrian Breen pushed Na Piarsaigh four clear, 1-6 to 0-5.

A Pauric Mahony free was followed by Brian O’Sullivan winning a Ballygunner penalty on 27 minutes: the Waterford side’s keeper Stephen O’Keeffe came up and goaled to level the game. A late Mahony free left Ballygunner one up at the half, 1-7 to 1-6.

Mahony (free) and Barry O’Sullivan hit points on the resumption, then Brian O’Sullivan put the Gunners four clear and the initiative was clearly with the Waterford men.

Mahony added a long-range free before Dowling had Na Piarsaigh’s first real chance, a close-in free. He took a quick one to Kevin Downes, who netted, but referee Nathan Wall called play back. Dowling pointed when he retook the free but Mahony responded from play - 1-12 to 1-7 on 42 minutes.

The same man dropped a ball all the way to the net from a free in his own half and added a point from a free immediately afterwards, and it was all Ballygunner - 2-13 to 1-7 and just over ten minutes left. Na Piarsaigh required a complete Ballygunner collapse to have any chance and that was never likely. O’Keeffe’s fine save from a Dowling shot energised his teammates.

Dowling would find the net from a free on 53 minutes but Ballygunner held out for a deserved win.

Scorers for Ballygunner: Pauric Mahony (1-6, 1-5 frees); S. O’Keeffe (pen)(1-0), Brian O’Sullivan (0-3); Barry O’Sullivan (0-2); H. Barnes, C. Power, S. O’Sullivan (0-1 each).

Scorers for Na Piarsaigh: S. Dowling (1-4, 1-3 frees); K. Downes (1-0); R. Lynch (0-2); A. Dempsey, A. Breen (0-1 each).

BALLYGUNNER: S. O’Keeffe (JC), E. Hayden, B. Coughlan, I. Kenny, W. Hutchinson, Philip Mahony, H. Barnes, B. O’Keeffe, S. O’Sullivan (JC), Barry O’Sullivan, Pauric Mahony, P. Hogan, T. O’Sullivan, Brian O’Sullivan, C. Power.

Subs: M. Mahony for T. O’Sullivan (58); JJ Hutchinson for Power (60).

NA PIARSAIGH: P. Kennedy, J. Boylan, M. Casey, C. King, R. Lynch, W. O’Donoghue (c), T. Grimes, A. Dempsey, G. Brown, D. Dempsey, S. Dowling, C. Boylan, A. Breen, K. Downes, P. Casey.

Subs: M. Foley for O’Donoghue (blood, 31-3); M. Foley for Grimes (43); K. Ryan for Breen (50).

Referee: N. Wall (Cork).

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