CHAMPIONS Ballygunner took a giant stride towards the retention of their Waterford SHC title with a six-point victory over arch-rivals Mount Sion in a hard-fought quarter-final at Walsh Park yesterday.
The champions got off to a flyer, racing into a four-point lead inside the opening eight minutes. Their lone goal came on eight minutes from the ever dangerous JJ Hutchinson to give them a 1-2 to 0-1 cushion, and at that stage things were looking ominous for Sion.
But, steadily they got back into contention with Ken McGrath leading the charge from centre-forward. They dominated throughout the second quarter and well deserved to be on level terms, 1-5 to 0-8, at the interval.
However, quick points from Páraic Mahony and Shane Walsh restored the Gunners’ lead on the resumption. Ken McGrath’s points from play and frees kept ‘Sion in touch, and it was still up for grabs when another McGrath point narrowed the deficit to just two, 1-12 to 0-13, with six minutes remaining.
But the Gunners steadied the ship, and closed out the game with a series of top -class points. Stephen Power had a brace from frees, and Shane Walsh, Hutchinson, and Shane O’Sullivan found the range as they eased into yet another county semi-final.
Scorers for Ballygunner: J. J. Hutchinson (1-2); S. Power (0-5, frees); S. Walsh (0-3); S. O’Sullivan (0-2); D. O’Sullivan (0-2); Paraic Mahony (0-2); H. Barnes (0-1).
Scorers for Mount Sion: K. McGrath (08, 0- frees, 0-1 “65’’); R. O’Keeffe (0-2); M. O’Neill, S. Roche, I. Galgey, C. Ryan (0-1) each.
BALLYGUNNER: S. O’Keeffe; J. Kearney. W. Kiely. A. Kirwan; Philip Mahony. F. Hartley. S. O’Keeffe; S. O’Sullivan. H. Barnes; S. Power. S. Walsh. D. O’Sullivan; B. O’Sullivan. Pauric Mahony. J.J. Hutchinson.
Subs: N. Waldron for Hartley; M. Kearney for B. O’Sullivan.
MOUNT SION: I. O’Regan; J. Cleere. A. Kirwan. K.Flynn; M.Gaffney. T. Browne. C. Ryan; M. O’Neill. J. Phelan; S. Roche. R. O’Keeffe. E. Whelan; E. McGrath. K. McGrath. I. Galgey.
Subs: R. Rohe for O’Regan (inj); S .O’Ryan for O’Neill; M. F. O’Neill for Galgey; K. Stafford for Phelan.
Referee: Tommy O’Sullivan, Cappoquin.
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