The Waterford champions returned to their dressing room at half-time yesterday five points in arrears. It was hardly an insurmountable target, but the scoreboard was no longer their sole concern.
Sweeper Philip Mahony had received a straight red card on 23 minutes for shoving his hurley into the stomach of David Cunningham. And while Glen Rovers were also reduced to 14-men during a melee which involved up to 25 players — Dean Brosnan the second player red-carded, Ballygunner were now without their conductor.
Further forward, their problems were many. Of the three-points accrued in the first-half, their opening two scores arrived via the stick of Hogan; the corner-forward withdrawn after 14 minutes.
Following his second white flag, Ballygunner would fail to post a single score in 23 minutes of action. And with manager Denis Walsh persisting with a sweeper in the wake of Mahony’s sending-off, their forward unit contained no more than four bodies in the closing stages of the half.
Against this backdrop their second-half showing boarders on the incredible. A Brian O’Sullivan ’65 upon the change of ends marked the first of 10 unanswered points in a remarkable 19 minutes of hurling from Walsh’s charges.
The problem for Glen Rovers was not stemming the string of Ballygunner scores, rather getting their hands on the sliotar. The Blackpool side were cleaned out from their own puck-outs and on the rare occasion they encroached the opposition half, they were quickly hunted out of possession by Barry Coughlan, Shane Walsh or the excellent David O’Sullivan.
Two Brian O’Sullivan frees either side of a Shane O’Sullivan strike levelled proceedings at 0-8 all on 40 minutes.
In the ensuing play, Brian O’Sullivan stood over a free inside his own ’65. The posts split, Ballygunner in front for the first time.
Tim O’Sullivan, Billy O’Keeffe and Brian O’Sullivan moved the Waterford champions into the distance and when Stephen Power horsed Ben Murphy out over the end-line for a ’65 which Power himself converted, Glen’s fairytale season was up.
Goal of the year from hoggie https://t.co/lRewObsHo8— CH1 (@PH31933) November 8, 2015
Patrick Horgan, to his credit, handed Richie Kelleher’s side a lifeline when connecting superbly with Dave Noonan’s sideline cut on 49 minutes. The centre-forward’s goal-of-the-year contender represented their first score of the second-half and cut the gap to two, 0-13 to 1-8.
No closer would they come, however; a Patrick Horgan free, added to his green flag, the sum total of their second-half efforts.
Ballygunner, meanwhile, continued to dominate between the 45’s and as frustration crept into the Glen’s play, Ballygunner’s free-count soared. Conor Sheahan, Shane O’Sullivan and three more from Brian O’Sullivan rounded off a second-half where they outscored their opponents by 0-16 to 1-1.
For the Glen, their failings were rooted in a first-half where eight wides were struck when assisted by the elements; several falling into the ‘Hail Mary’ category.
Gavin Moylan and Graham Callanan did shoot big scores, but too often the wrong option was taken.
Ahead by the minimum when referee Johnny Murphy flashed those two red cards, the Cork club reacted stronger and clipped four on the bounce to establish daylight between the teams — Horgan (0-2), Conor Dorris and Callanan on the mark. They required a decent opening to the second period, but, ultimately, never left the blocks.
Glen Rovers’ defeat ensures a sixth consecutive Munster final without a Cork club. A sobering stat.
For Ballygunner, they prepare for a first provincial decider since 2009. And even without Philip and Pauric Mahony, they’re unlikely to fear whoever greets them on November 22.
Brian O’Sullivan (0-9, 7 frees, 0-1 ’65); S Power (1 ’65), S O’Sullivan, P Hogan (0-2 each); T O’Sullivan, C Sheahan, H Barnes, B O’Keeffe (0-1 each).
P Horgan (1-5, 3 frees, 0-1 ’65); G Moylan, G Callanan, D Cunningham, C Dorris (0-1 each).
S O’Keeffe; E Hayden, B Coughlan, I Kenny; S Walsh, D O’Sullivan, P Mahony; B O’Keeffe, H Barnes; C Power, S O’Sullivan, Barry O’Sullivan; T O’Sullivan, Brian O’Sullivan, P Hogan.
S Power for Hogan (14 mins, inj), JJ Hutchinson for T O’Sullivan (45), S O’Sullivan for Power (58), C Sheahan for B O’Keeffe (60).
C Hickey; B Murphy, D Dooling, S McDonnell; G Moylan, B Moylan, G Callanan; D Cronin, D Noonan; D Brosnan, P Horgan, D Cunningham; C Dorris, B Phelan, D Busteed.
A O’Donovan for Phelan (47 mins), L Coughlan for Busteed (52), G Kennefick for Dorris (58).
J Murphy (Limerick).