Mayfield (Cork) 2-18 Ballyduff Lower (Waterford) 3-10: Mayfield have joined the elite band of clubs to win the Munster junior hurling championship after the Cork side reigned supreme in Mallow yesterday.
Writing themselves into the history books, they collected the Nealon Cup for the first time.
The trophy remains on in the Rebel county following Dungourney’s success in 2015.
And there was no doubting the winners’ supremacy, as they delivered a powerful performance on the big stage. This was their greatest test to date in the provincial competition, but they were primed. They were at their very best, excelling, particularly in the second-half.
Their fitness and speed enabled them to run at the Ballyduff Lower defence at every opportunity.
They were comfortable victors, but credit to the Déise side, they remained resilient to the finish, clawing back some of the deficit with two late goals.
Minus regular wing-back Gavin Looney due to work commitments, the outstanding David O’Neill set the tone for Mayfield with a blistering goal after just eight minutes. The wing-forward was cleverly picked out by his opposite wing Shane Kelly.
However, Ballyduff Lower were equal to the challenge and were on level terms at the end of the opening quarter when Jack Lyons managed to squeeze the sliotar past Richard O’Keeffe, 1-4 apiece.
The Waterford champions then edged ahead through the accuracy of free-taker Brian Power, but Mayfield wrestled back the initiative when the hard-working Shane Duggan managed to kick to the net on 19 minutes. The Cork representatives went on to outscore their opponents five points to two on the approach to half-time. Nicky Kelly found the range with some excellent frees, while Power, Eoin Cummins and Declan Cheasty were on target for Ballyduff Lower. Mayfield led 2-10 to 1-8 at the change of ends.
With both sides wearing their county colours due to a clash of jerseys, Mayfield took the game to Ballyduff Lower after the restart.
O’Neill and Nicky Kelly exchanged points with Power and Calum Lyons but once Mayfield hit their stride there was no stopping them.
The Waterford outfit were also undone by indiscipline with yellow cards issued in quick succession to full-back John O’Leary and centre-back Calum Lyons.
With 10 minutes remaining, Mayfield had raced 2-15 to 1-10 clear courtesy of points from Shane Duggan, Kevin Punch and Nicky Kelly – the contest almost decided.
Superb all over the field they were, with five-star performances from all six defenders who ably negated the attacking threat of Ballyduff Lower, especially their danger-man and former county star, Jack Kennedy.
However, as the clock counted down into the final five minutes, the two teams were reduced to 14 men.
Both Brian O’Learys received straight red cards from referee Damien Fox - the Ballyduff Lower player only a couple of minutes on the field.
Despite Kennedy and Adam Carroll goaling for Ballyduff Lower in the 56th and 63rd minutes, and the magnificent Nicky Kelly blasting a penalty off the crossbar, Mayfield were in command.
Their final score from play brought a huge cheer as Patrick Duggan kicked the sliotar over the bar.
Scorers for Mayfield:
N Kelly (0-10, 0-6 frees), D O’Neill (1-4), S Duggan (1-2), K Punch and P Duggan (0-1 each).
Scorers for Ballyduff Lower:
Brian Power (0-5 frees), J Kennedy (1-1), J Lyons and A Carroll (1-0 each), C Lyons, C Dunphy, D Cheasty and E Cummins (0-1 each).
R O’Keeffe; K Brosnan, D Lucey, B O’Leary; C O’Sullivan, S O’Donovan (Capt), G Lehane; K Punch, D Hayes; S Kelly, N Kelly, D O’Neill; S Duggan, D Malone, P Duggan.
K Walsh for K Punch (58).
M Atkins; M De Paor, J O’Leary (Capt), M Millea; Bryan Power, C Lyons, P Kennedy; C Power, Brian Power; J Lyons, J Kennedy, C Dunphy; D Reade, D Cheasty, E Cummins.
R Coffey-O’Shea for E Cummins (40), B O’Leary for D Cheasty (51), A Carroll for J Lyons (60).
Damien Fox (Clare).
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