Ballygunner storm to title

THIS Waterford SHC final was as one-sided as the score suggests as Ballygunner captured their 12th senior title with ease at sun-drenched Walsh Park yesterday.

Waterford’s new manager-elect Michael Ryan can hardly have been excited by the mediocrity of the fare as Tallow never reproduced the style that had seen them make the final while the Gunners never had to exert themselves over the hour.

Twice in the opening nine minutes the sides traded points and the scene seemed set for a thrilling decider. But once Brian O’Sullivan restored the Gunners’ lead with a 14th minute point it was an advantage they never relinquished.

Tallow went 20 minutes without a score, by which time the Gunners had inflicted severe damage to their title hopes.

The losers lightweight attack could find no way past a tight marking Ballygunner defence in which Wayne Hutchinson was majestic, while Pauric Mahony was in deadly mood from frees for the winners.

The game’s only goal came in the 25th minute. Midfielder David O’Sullivan knifed his way past three defenders on a mazy solo run, parted with inch perfect precision to Harley Barnes who gave goalkeeper Shaun O’Sullivan no chance from close range. That put the Gunners 1-4 to 0-2 clear and was the beginning of the end of Tallow’s challenge.

There was no respite for them in the remaining minutes of the half with JJ Hutchinson, veteran Andy Moloney, and Mahony thrice from frees on target. A Thomas Ryan pointed free in the 28th minute was all Tallow could muster as they trailed (1-9 to 0-3) at the break.

The losers began brightly on the restart with a superb Aaron Pratt point, the first of a brace by the nippy wing forward, but the Gunners continued to dominate and extended their advantage with further scores from Mahony (2) and the skipper Shane O’Sullivan.

The Gunners piled on the points with Tallow’s solitary reply coming from influential midfielder Paul O’Brien who was then forced off with injury a few minutes later.

The final whistle can only have been a merciful relief for Tallow. No fault of the wholehearted efforts of the O’Briens, David, Mark, and Paul, Aidan Kearney, James Murray, Aaron Pratt, and Thomas Ryan but as a unit the side was overwhelmed by a vastly superior opposition.

The Gunners have scarcely had an easier title win than this one on a day when Wayne Hutchinson and Pauric Mahony impressed most with significant displays from the skipper Shane O’Sullivan, his namesake David, Philip Mahony, and veteran Andy Moloney.

Scorers for Ballygunner: Pauric Mahony (0-11, 0-9 frees); H. Barnes (1-0); S. O’Sullivan (0-2); A. Moloney (0-2); S. Walsh, Brian O’Sullivan, JJ Hutchinson, N. Waldron (0-1) each.

Scorers for Tallow: T. Ryan (0-3, 0-1 free, 0-1 65); A. Pratt (0-2); P. O’Brien (0-1).

BALLYGUNNER: S. O’Keeffe; W. Kiely, B. Coughlan, R. Cunningham; Philip Mahony, W. Hutchinson, A. Kirwan; S. Walsh, D. O’Sullivan; J. J. Hutchinson, S. O’Sullivan, A. Moloney; Brian O’Sullivan, Pauric Mahony, H. Barnes.

Subs:S. O’Keeffe for Kirwan (ht); Barry O’Sullivan for Brian O’Sullivan (51); B. Mullane for Moloney (51); S. Power for Walsh (55); N. Waldron for Barnes (56).

TALLOW: S. O’Sullivan; K. Kearney, D. O’Brien, A. Kearney; J. Murray, M. O’Brien, W. Henley; K. Geary, P. O’Brien; E. Sheehan, E. Condon, A. Pratt; K. Curley, T. Ryan, B. Henley.

Subs: T. Daly for Curley (ht); B. McCarthy for Sheehan (39); K. O’Brien for Henley (39); T. Feeney for P. O’Brien, inj (51).

Referee: Michael O’Brien.

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