Ballygunner were far too strong for Mount Sion in a disappointing Waterford SHC final yesterday, outscoring their opponents 11 points to two after half-time.
In wintry conditions the men in red and black were far more clinical, with free-taker Padraic Mahony’s accuracy and the industry of Shane O’Sullivan crucial to their victory.
Mount Sion will be disappointed with their display, losing Austin Gleeson late on to a second yellow as their frustration became all too evident and their discipline frayed. They were within touching distance at half-time but fell away badly in the second half.
The winners were exultant, understandably – all the more so after their heartbreaking defeat last year, when they were caught on the line by underdogs Passage, who surged past with two late late goals for a sensational win.
It was a defeat that made yesterday all the sweeter.
“It’s the club, my club since I was seven years of age,” said manager Fergal Hartley afterwards.
“I’m involved with this (senior) team since 1989, so yeah, it’s emotional. It means an awful lot, of course it does.”
Hartley acknowledged that last year’s late collapse had been a factor in driving the team on for this title: “The win was born in January, February, but the motivation to do all the work goes back to last year.
“We didn’t mention it all year, we certainly didn’t mention it today — and in fairness to Passage, they deserved that win on the day and I wouldn’t take from them, but we would have felt we got in a winning position that day. That drove us on, absolutely.”
Ballygunner started with the breeze, playing into the scoreboard end, and had 1-2 on the board within six minutes, their goal thanks to Brian O’Sullivan’s quick hands when a Padraic Mahony free dropped short.
Driven on by Austin Gleeson’s energy at centre-back, however, Mount Sion had the better of the ensuing exchanges even if they couldn’t make it count on the scoreboard. However, on 14 minutes Brian O’Sullivan collected a Harley Barnes delivery, rounded his man and goaled neatly from close range: 2-3 to 0-2.
Mount Sion responded with three Martin O’Neill frees and were only four points behind at half-time. ‘Gunners manager Hartley admitted afterwards that he felt his team would have needed a healthier lead facing into the wind, but the game turned in the ten minutes following the break.
Not only did Ballygunner hit four points to Sion’s one, but the Monastery side missed two goal chances, Ian Galgey batting wide with the goal gaping, and Tony Browne’s instinctive flick on a loose ball flying just past the post.
Unfortunately for neutrals in the 3,206 attendance, the game ran out of steam long before the end, Ballygunner hitting the last seven points on the trot. Mount Sion needed goals to have any chance, but their opponents’ defence was disciplined, organised and resilient.
“We’ve a good defence,” said Hartley. “We’ve a good team overall, a big physical team.
“We take the plaudits today but the team is the result of years and years of amazing work by people like Mick Mahony, Stephen Frampton, Billy O’Sullivan, all the people who train our juvenile teams.
“They don’t just arrive, they’re trained well and now they’re serious hurlers.”
The manager said that last year’s late collapse hadn’t played on his players’ minds.
“No, I’d hope it wouldn’t, I think if you keep thinking about something like that it’s more likely to happen again.
“That’s history now. You’re always worried in the sense that you’re not sure until the very last minute, but last year is history for us.”
M. O’Neill 0-7 (fs); R. Roche, I. Galgey 0-1 each.
Padraic Mahony 0-10 (0-7 fs, 0-1 65); Brian O’Sullivan 2-2; JJ Hutchinson 0-2; Barry O’Sullivan and H. Barnes 0-1 each.
I. O’Regan, M. Hogan, C. Ryan, S. O’Neill, M. Gaffney (c), A. Gleeson, O. Whelan, Martin O’Neill, S. Roche, T. Browne, E. McGrath, Martin F. O’Neill, R. Roche, S. Ryan, I.Galgey.
P. Penkert for C. Ryan HT; K. Stafford for S. Ryan, 47; M. Daykin for R. Roche, 50; G. Carroll for M. F. O’Neill, 51.
S. O’Keeffe, A. Kirwan, B. Coughlin, Stephen O’Keeffe, Philip Mahony (joint captain), W. Hutchinson, S. Walshe, H. Barnes (joint captain), Barry O’Sullivan, D. O’Sullivan, Brian O’Sullivan, JJ Hutchinson, C. Power.
P. Hogan for C. Power, 38; C. Sheahan for Barry O’Sullivan (blood 48-53); C. Sheahan for David O’Sullivan, 53; S. Power for Barry O’Sullivan, 56; R. Cunningham for A. Kirwan, 58; G. Molloy for H. Barnes, 59.
M. Curran (Sean-Phobal)