They absorbed the loss of the experienced John Hurney to a red card before the interval and kicked on confidently in the second half, guided by man of the match Gary Hurney.
Selector Neil Moore admitted the tag of underdogs proved a massive motivation for his troops.
“The lads were determined that we weren’t coming over here and losing. A lot of the talk around was that we were coming over to make up the numbers but we showed a few people that we can play football too. They are very fit and that’s a great tribute to our club fitness coach James Keoghan. Even with the 14 men, they were able to battle on. We are a big, strong, physical team and there has been a good fitness programme put in place in the club this year. All over the field we just said to the lads that they would have to win their own position.”
Facing each other for the third time in four years at this juncture, familiarity bred a certain amount of contempt as both sides finished with 14 men. The key battleground of midfield swung overwhelmingly in Courty’s favour during the second quarter and they never loosened that grip. Gary Hurney ruled the skies and captain Mark Fives reacted quickest to the breaking ball. They were ably assisted by forward thinking half backs in Richie Foley and Shane Briggs. Stradbally eyed up their ninth crown in 13 years beforehand but their bid was significantly hindered by an injury sustained to Michael Walsh.
Patrick Hurney and Michael O’Halloran set the early pace for the winners but David Grey, Shane Ahearne (free) and Paddy Kiely replied to give Stradbally a 0-3 to 0-2 first quarter advantage.
Stradbally subsequently experienced difficulties with their own kick out as Mark Fives vacuumed up the breaking ball. The aforementioned Fives equalised before a James O’Mahoney point and a Richie Foley brace established a healthy position for the winners approaching the interval (0-6 to 0-3). Courty could have cashed in more on their midfield mastery but they shot six wides. In the first minute of added time, John Hurney received a straight red card following an off the ball tangle with Tony Grey.
Despite their numerical disadvantage, Courty stretched their legs on the restart. Mark Fives landed his second after a Gary Hurney assist. The evergreen Hurney then squeezed an astonishing attempt inside the left post after being knocked off balance by two Stradbally defenders. The Reds had gone an incredible 34 minutes without a score before Shane Ahearne landed a free on 45 minutes (0-8 to 0-4). The Villagers weren’t to be denied however as Gary Hurney and Michael O’Halloran tacked on two frees. A frustrating afternoon for the Reds was exacerbated when Paddy Kiely was sent off after an altercation with James O’Mahoney on 50 minutes. Mark Ferncombe and John Power put the icing on the cake for Courty with late scores.
Scorers for Ballinacourty: M Fives, R Foley, G Hurney (1f), M O’Halloran (1f) 0-2 each; J O’Mahoney, P Hurney, M Ferncombe, J Power 0-1 each.
Scorers for Stradbally: S Ahearne (2fs), D Grey 0-2 each; P Kiely 0-1.
Ballinacourty: S Enright; D Collins, S O’Hare, B Looby; C Moloney, S Briggs, R Foley; J Hurney, G Hurney; M Ferncombe, M Fives, J O’Mahoney; J O’Brien, P Hurney, M O’Halloran.
Subs: S Donovan for O’Brien (43); J Power for O’Mahoney (52); G Breen for Collins (61); M Gorman for O’Halloran (62); P Lynch for Moloney (63).
STRADBALLY: O Costelloe; P Doyle, S Lannon, A Doyle; K Lawlor, E Rockett, T Grey; M Walsh, S Ahearne; J Coffey, P Kiely, T Connors; D Grey, R Ahearne, G Power.
Subs: K Coffey for A Doyle (H-T); A Doyle for P Doyle (38); J Mullaney for Power (43); L Casey for Lawlor (45); T Curran for Connors (52).
Referee: J Condon.