Epic quarter-final sees Ballygunner come out on top

Ballygunner (Waterford) 1-21 Thurles Sarsfield (Tipperary) 1-19 (AET)

Ballygunner came out on top in this epic Munster club SHC quarter-final at Walsh Park after extra time, writes Michael Moynihan.

Sarsfields were aided by the wind in the first half, the start of which was delayed by ten minutes due to crowd congestion.

Pauric Mahony opened the scoring for Ballygunner and Lar Corbett equalised, though both sides were wasteful early on.

By the tenth minute Sars were two up thanks to the accuracy of Stephen Lillis, 0-4 to 0-2, only for Mahony to level matters with a brace.

By the twentieth minute the Gunners had a goal, a long-range free from Mahony dipping in to deceive the Sars defenders on the goal-line; a David O’Sullivan point from the puck-out made it 1-6 to 0-6.

Ballygunner added another point, from Conor Power, as Sars hit back: Corbett and Denis Maher responded with points, and Gunner goalie Stephen O’Keeffe had to save smartly from Billy McCarthy. Mahoney converted one last free before the break: 1-8 to 0-8.

The sides swapped points on the resumption, and then swapped frees - Mahony and Bourke - maintaining that one-goal gap. Sars needed a goal, and they got it.

On 41 minutes O’Keeffe saved from McCarthy but Conor Stakelum goaled from the rebound - 1-12 to 1-11, Sars ahead, though a Mahony free levelled the game within a minute.

Ballygunner sub David Walsh nudged his side one ahead going into the final ten minutes, but the Waterford men hit three consecutive wides after that, and Denis Maher levelled the game on 56 minutes.

Shane O’Sullivan and Hogan put Ballygunner two ahead on 60 minutes, however, and Sars started hitting wides before Stephen Cahill made it a one-point game and Corbett levelled it. Extra time.

Sars began with the breeze again but Mahony opened the scoring with a free. Both sides began to tire, but David O’Sullivan pointed, and another Mahony free gave the home side a three point lead.

Aidan McCormack pointed a free, leaving it 1-18 to 1-16 at half-time in extra time. Padraic Maher pointed to make it a one-point game on the resumption.

Barry O’Sullivan and Pa Bourke swapped points, Keeping Ballygunner one ahead until Padraic Maher stormed up to make it a draw with three minutes left. Sub Hutchinson got that all-important lead point and Mahony made it safe.

Scorers for Ballygunner: P. Mahony (1-11, 1-6 frees); P. Hogan, D. O’Sullivan (0-2 each); Brian O’Sullivan, Barry O’Sullivan, C. Power, S. O’Sullivan, D. Walsh, JJ Hutchinson (0-1 each).

Scorers for Sarsfields: L. Corbett (0-4); C. Stakelum (1-0); D. Maher, A. McCormack (0-1 free), P. Bourke (0-2 frees) (0-3 each); P. Maher, S. Lillis, (0-2 each); S. Cahill, B. McCarthy (0-1 each).

BALLYGUNNER: S. O’Keeffe, E. Hayden, B. Coughlan, I. Kenny, P Mahony, W. Hutchinson, S. Walsh (joint captain), H. Barnes, S. O’Sullivan, P. Hogan, D. O’Sullivan, P. Mahony (joint captain), C. Power, B. O’Keeffe, B. O’Sullivan.

Subs: D. Walsh for B. O’Sullivan (inj. 40); B. O’Sullivan for O’Keeffe, JJ Hutchison for Power (both 56); T. O’Sullivan for Hogan (66); C. Sheahan for S. Walsh (77); B. O’Keeffe for Barnes (79).

THURLES SARSFIELDS: P. McCormack, S. Maher, C. Moloney, M. Cahill, R. Maher, P. Maher (c), S. Lillis, J. Maher, S. Cahill, B. McCarthy, A. McCormack, D. Maher, C. Stakelum, P Bourke, L. Corbett.

Subs: T. Doyle for Bourke (48); M. O’Brien for Stakelum (55); C. Stakelum for D. Maher (66); K. O’Gorman for S. Maher (HT ET); P. Bourke for Corbett (72).

Referee: C. Lyons (Cork).

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