Wallace hails charges as Ballyduff forced to battle

FAVOURITES Ballyduff were forced to produce a storming fightback to claim their 23rd crown in a thrilling Kerry SHC final at Austin Stack Park, Tralee.

It meant heartbreak for Shane Nolan inspired Crotta O’Neill’s who led 0-12 to 0-6 eight minutes into the second half and looked set to claim their first title since 1968. But Ballyduff are noted championship fighters and refused to surrender; a fact their manager and newly appointed Antrim boss Jerry Wallace acknowledged afterwards

“This was one of our toughest wins in my time here in Kerry hurling.This final had everything and to be fair Crotta had goal chances in the first half and again in the second half.

My initial reaction is that I am delighted for the group of players, because it had been said to them that they had underachieved as a group of players within the village. To win one title is difficult but to post back to back, is special.”

Ballyduff were unsettled early on, and it took some excellent defending from captain Ally O’Connor and Liam Boyle to keep them in touch. Crotta O’Neill’s jumped 0-5 to 0-2 in front by the end of the opening quarter, with Nolan running a succession of markers ragged. However, minors Pat Joe Connolly and Padraig Boyle kept Ballyduff in touch as Crotta led 0-10 to 0-5 at the break.

But Ballyduff started to dominate around midfield were Padraig O’Grady, Ally O’Connor, Liam and Mikey Boyle began to win breaking ball, and after Nolan’s early brace, Ballyduff hit back in typical fashion.

Firstly in the 39th minute Gary O’Brien fed Anthony O’Carroll and the corner forward fired to the net. This seemed to ignite Ballyduff as Crotta wasted chance after chance and they were made pay in the 49th minute when Barry O’Grady’s high cross, was fielded by Gary O’Brien and blasted home. That strike gave his side the lead for the first time (2-9 to 0-14) and there was no way back for unlucky Crotta O’Neill’s.

Ballyduff will now face Cork champions Courcey Rovers who are ironically coached by Kerry boss John Meyler.

Scorers for Ballyduff: B O’Sullivan 0-7 (0-6 frees, 0-1 ‘65), G O’Brien and A O’Carroll 1-0 each, P Boyle and P J Connolly 0-2 each.

Scorers for Crotta O’Neill’s: S Nolan 0-13 (0-11 frees), C Lynch and I McCarthy 0-1 each.

BALLYDUFF: P J O’Gorman, J Bowler, P Costello, D O’Grady, L Boyle, A O’Connor, P O’Grady, B O’Sullivan, B O’Grady, G O’Brien, A Boyle, M Boyle , P J Connolly, P Boyle , A O’Carroll.

CROTTA O’NEILL’S: S Twomey, D Galvin, P Twomey, T B McElligott, D Twomey, A Keane, P Quille, C Lynch, R Nolan, Matt Lynch, Mike Lynch, S Weir, I McCarthy, D Carney, S Nolan.

Subs: P Costello for R Nolan (29), E O’Sullivan for D Carney (45), T Cronin for Me McCarthy (51), B Culhane for C Lynch (53).

Referee: John Healy (Clare).

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