Ballygunner edge out Sixmilebridge in thriller
AIB Munster Club SHC semi-final
BALLYGUNNER 1-18 SIXMILEBRIDGE 1-17
By Tomás McCarthy at Walsh Park
JJ Hutchinson popped up with a late goal as Ballygunner edged a semi-final thriller with Sixmilebridge at a bright but bitterly cold Walsh Park this afternoon.
The experienced forward hit 1-3 in the second half and Billy O’Keeffe chipped in with 0-3 as the Déise champions overturned a five point interval deficit. Pauric Mahony tallied 0-11 for the winners while All Star keeper Stephen O’Keeffe produced a blinding second half save.
Seadna Morey stung the net for Sixmilebridge four minutes into added time as Johnny Murphy’s final whistle came as a relief to the Gunners.
The Bridge played with the breeze initially and chief scorer Jamie Shanahan promptly nailed a free. Further singles by Shane Golden, Conor Deasy, Niall Gilligan and Shanahan again the gave them a 0-5 to 0-3 advantage by the quarter hour stage.
Four Pauric Mahony frees kept the Gunners nearby before Derek Fahy thwarted the elusive Conor Power on 20 minutes. At the other end, Cathal Malone won a free and Shanahan restored a two point advantage for the visitors. Shane O’Sullivan then delivered Ballygunner’s first point from play. Fergal Hartley’s men shot six first half wides.
The away team upped the ante heading towards the break. Alan Mulready and Shanahan pushed the Bridge lead out to four before Gilligan added another white flag in injury time (0-11 to 0-6).
The Gunners took a chunk out of that on the restart. Billy O’Keeffe and Alex Morey swapped points before Peter Hogan struck the crossbar on 33 minutes. JJ Hutchinson, selected instead of the injured Brian O’Sullivan, registered two points. Mahony levelled this fiercely contested battle with his first from play.
Stephen O’Keeffe brilliantly parried Shane Golden’s close range shot but Cathal Malone nudged the Bridge back in front. Mahony tied the scores again before Hutchinson set up O’Keeffe for the lead point (0-14 to 0-13). Shanahan (free) and Brian Corry allowed the Bridge overtake the Gunners inside the last ten minutes.
Mahony replied with two frees but Shanahan’s switch into the half forward line was rewarded with a brace to bring his total to nine (0-17 to 0-16). Hutchinson scrambled to the net on 58 minutes however to turn the game in favour of the hosts. Injury time efforts from O’Keeffe and Hutchinson afforded them breathing space despite Morey’s late strike.
They will meet Na Piarsaigh on November 19 in a repeat of the 2015 final.
*Scorers for Ballygunner: *Pauric Mahony 0-11 (9fs, 1 65’), JJ Hutchinson 1-3, B O’Keeffe 0-3, S O’Sullivan 0-1.
*Scorers for Sixmilebridge: *J Shanahan 0-9 (6fs), S Morey 1-0, N Gilligan 0-2, C Deasy, C Malone, A Morey, B Corry, S Golden, A Mulready 0-1 each.
BALLYGUNNER: *S O’Keeffe; E Hayden, B Coughlan, I Kenny; W Hutchinson, Philip Mahony, S Walsh; H Barnes, S O’Sullivan; D O’Sullivan, Pauric Mahony, B O’Keeffe; C Power, JJ Hutchinson, P Hogan. *Subs: B O’Sullivan for Walsh (42), D Walsh for Hogan (60).
SIXMILEBRIDGE: *D Fahy; N Purcell, S Morey, B Fitzpatrick; C Morey, A Quilligan, E McInerney; J Shanahan, C Deasy; C Malone, N Gilligan, S Golden; B Corry, A Morey, A Mulready. *Subs: K Lynch for Mulready (55), B Carey for McInerney (58)
*Referee: *J Murphy (Limerick)