Ultimately the loss of five first team regulars cost ‘Courty dearly but credit must be paid the winner’s midfield duo of Shane Walsh and Brian Wall who hit 10 points between them while in the second half they won vital ball time and again and dropped back to help out in defence when required.
The defending champions had the perfect start with three points from Patrick and Gary Hurney and John Gorman inside the opening two minutes. But once Wall got off the mark with a 6th-minute free Nire steadily eased their way back. They were level on the quarter hour, before another Wall point, a fine fisted effort, gave them the lead for the first time in the 20th minute. It was to be a lead they would never relinquish.
Ballinacourty players and officials were furious six minutes later when referee Michael Wadding awarded them a free — and not a penalty. Following their arguments with the official, he cancelled the free and awarded a throw ball.
Ironically Nire gained possession and after a sweeping movement Richard Fenton pointed at the other end for a 0-7 to 0-6 interval lead.
An early second-half exchange of quality points between Michael Moore and Colin Keane was followed by a period of Nire dominance which produced three points on the trot from Wall (2) and Walsh. While Sean O’Hare narrowed the deficit to just a goal with a fine score, the Nire were firmly in control.
Fittingly the final and best score of the game came from the impressive Walsh to the delight of the Nire faithful.
If Walsh and Wall were the architects-in-chief of the Nire’s fifth title win they were also superbly served by inspirational captain John Moore, Thomas and Maurice O’Gorman, David Ryan, and roaming attacker Liam Lawlor.
Disappointment for the champions who were tasting defeat in the final for the first time from six appearances, but no fault of John, Gary, and Patrick Hurney, John Phelan, and Sean O’Hare on a day when the loss of so many of their regular stalwarts proved their undoing.
Scorers for Nire: B. Wall (0-6, 0-5f); S. Walsh (0-4, 0-1f) R. Fenton, M. Moore (0-1) each.
Scorers for Ballinacourty: G. Hurney (0-2); J. Gorman (0-2, 0-1f); S. O’Hare (0-2); P. Hurney, C. Keane (0-1) each.
NIRE: T. Flynn; J. McGrath, T. O’Gorman, Maurice O’Gorman; J. Moore, D. Ryan, P. Prendergast; S. Walsh, B. Wall; D. Wall, Michael O’Gorman, C. Power; L Lawlor, R. Fenton, M. Moore.
Sub: M. Walsh for D. Wall (46).
BALLINACOURTY: S. Enright; J. Mullen, J. Phelan, G. Breen; M. Gorman, J. Hurney, T. Murray; S. O’Hare, P. Lynch; P. Hurney, L. Hurney, J. Gorman; M. Fives, G. Hurney, C. Keane.
Subs: M. Ferncombe for Keane (42); M. Lavan for Breen (55); D. Fives for M. Gorman (56); J. Foley for L.Hurney (57).
Referee: Tommy O’Sullivan, (Cappoquin).