Courty score sweet revenge

BALLINACOURTY dramatically dethroned title holders Stradbally in a tension-filled Waterford SFC final at Fraher Field, Dungarvan, yesterday.

Twelve months ago, Courty ended up on the wrong side of a one-point defeat to their arch rivals, yet they got some measure of revenge and stopped Stradbally’s charge for a three-in-a-row to claim a first title win for their club since 2007.

“Our agonising defeat in last year’s final was still hurting for all of us,” said Courty’s ace marksman Gary Hurney.

“In the end it was the motivation from that defeat that got us across the winning line this time, but Stradbally battled right to the end just as we always knew they would.”

It was a view shared by man of the match Shane Briggs who turned in a tremendous performance in the middle of the field.

“Thankfully we learned our lessons from that shattering defeat and we were determined not to have to go through the same depressing experience again,” he said.

Such was the strength of the wind that neither side managed to raise a solitary flag when playing into it.

The half dozen points that Ballinacourty notched all came in the opening half which they dominated and deservedly led by 0-6 to 0-0 at the interval.

Not only did Stradbally fail to score but it took them all of 23 minutes to kick their first wide and by then the winners were four points to the good thanks to a Gary Hurney hat-trick (two from placed balls) and a real beauty by John Gorman.

Given the horrendous conditions, it was far from an unassailable lead and when Pat Weldon finally broke the defending champions scoring duck with a peach of a point within three minutes of the restart, it was game on.

For all their possession, Stradbally just couldn’t prize open Courty’s magnificent defensive phalanx who threw their midfielders and several attackers back to shore up the defence.

They had to wait until the 53rd minute for their second point from a Shane Ahearne free as they threw all at Courty.

Outstanding corner back Paddy Doyle drove them on with some super forays forward and Michael ‘Brick’ Walsh and John Coffey finally broke the Courty stranglehold around the middle.

Niall Curran’s pointed free narrowed the gap further and it became a one-point final when half-time substitute Stephen Cunningham sweetly lofted over one from play in the 59th minute.

Both Shane Lannon and Shane Ahearne kicked wides from decent positions, before Ballinacourty substitute Conor Moloney’s fisted goal attempt was brilliantly stopped by keeper Oliver Costelloe.

But in the end they didn’t need it and Ballinacourty are the deserving champions for a fifth time.

Scorers for Ballinacourty; G. Hurney 0-4 (3fs), J Gorman, S Briggs 0-1 each.

Scorers for Stradbally: N Curran 0-2fs, P Weldon, S Ahearne (f), S Cunningham (0-1) each.

BALLINACOURTY: S Enright; M Lavan, J Phelan, G Breen; J Hurney, P Lynch, R Foley; S Briggs, S O’Hare; J Gorman, P Hurney, M Fives; J O’Brien, G Hurney, M Ferncombe.

Subs: J O’Mahony for O’Brien (46), C Moloney for J Gorman (53), L Huney for Fives (58).

STRADBALLY: O Costelloe; P Doyle, K Coffey, T Costelloe; T Grey, E Rockett, A Doyle; M Walsh, J Coffey; P Weldon, S Ahearne, S Lannon; N Curran, R Ahearne, T Connors.

Subs: S Cunningham for Connors (ht), T Curran for Weldon (56).

Referee: T O’Sullivan (Cappoquin).

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