Ballygunner edge thriller against Thurles Sarsfields
Munster Club SHC Quarter-Final
BALLYGUNNER 1-21 THURLES SARSFIELDS 1-19
By Tomas McCarthy at Walsh Park
Despite appearing for the seventh consecutive week in competitive action, Ballygunner found the energy to defeat Thurles Sarsfields after extra time in Walsh Park. Late points by JJ Hutchinson and Pauric Mahony sent them into the last four of the provincial championship.
Main front man Brian O’Sullivan cried off with a shoulder injury midway through the second half, but the Ballygunner subs came to the fore. David Walsh, Barry O’Sullivan and Hutchinson all contributed points. Man of the match Philip Mahony was immense at the heart of the defence while Shane O’Sullivan put in trojan work at midfield. Pauric Mahony tallied 1-11 including a fortuitous first half goal. Padraic Maher and Lar Corbett starred for Sars throughout an epic encounter.
After a delayed throw in, Mahony opened the scoring. Two long range strikes by Thurles wing back Stephen Lillis gave them a 0-4 to 0-2 advantage after eight minutes. Mahony brought the sides on equal terms for a third time before Aidan McCormack and Lar Corbett restored that two-point cushion. Brian O’Sullivan then clipped his first.
On 20 minutes, Pauric Mahony won a free along the sideline. The number 12 dropped it short under the crossbar, but Padraic Maher couldn’t hold the sliotar and it trickled into the net. David O’Sullivan belted over a peach immediately afterwards. Conor Power extended the lead to four (1-7 to 0-6).
After a 14-minute barren spell, Lar Corbett hit a spectacular score over his shoulder. It was Corbett’s third from play. Billy McCarthy forced a save from Stephen O’Keeffe before Denis Maher pointed again. Pauric Mahony completed the first half scoring with a free inside his own 65 (1-8 to 0-8).
Billy McCarthy blazed over O’Keeffe’s crossbar 15 seconds into the second period, but Mahony replied. The Waterford champions then lost full forward O’Sullivan. On 44 minutes, Conor Stakelum whipped past O’Keeffe after the Gunners number one saved brilliantly from McCarthy (1-12 to 1-11).
Mahony (free) and sub David Walsh nudged Fergal Hartley’s team back in front. Denis Maher then punished a sloppy clearance. A rousing point by Shane O’Sullivan followed by a kicked effort from Peter Hogan granted the Gunners a 1-15 to 1-13 lead. Deep in injury time, Stephen Cahill and Lar Corbett tied it up for the sixth occasion and forced an additional 20 minutes.
Two Mahony frees and David O’Sullivan from play left it 1-18 to 1-16 by half time of extra time. Two huge Padraic Maher points levelled again before Hutchinson and Mahony edged the Gunners over the line in an absorbing finale.
The winners face Sixmilebridge at the same venue next Sunday.
Scorers for Ballygunner: Pauric Mahony 1-11 (1-6fs), P Hogan, D O’Sullivan 0-2 each, S O’Sullivan, C Power, Brian O’Sullivan, D Walsh, Barry O’Sullivan, JJ Hutchinson 0-1 each.
Scorers for Thurles Sarsfields: L Corbett 0-4, C Stakelum 1-0, A McCormack (1f), P Bourke (2fs), D Maher 0-3 each, P Maher, S Lillis 0-2 each, S Cahill, B McCarthy 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, P Hogan, Brian O’Sullivan.
Subs: D Walsh for Brian O’Sullivan (42), Barry O’Sullivan for Power (58), JJ Hutchinson for B O’Keeffe (59), T O’Sullivan for Hogan (69), C Sheehan for S Walsh (77), B O’Keeffe for Barnes (80).
THURLES SARSFIELDS: P McCormack; R Maher, S Maher, M Cahill; C Moloney, P Maher, S Lillis; J Maher, S Cahill; B McCarthy, A McCormack, D Maher; C Stakelum, P Bourke, L Corbett.
Subs: T Doyle for Bourke (49), M O’Brien for Stakelum (56), C Stakelum for D Maher (69), K O’Gorman for S Maher (70), P Bourke for Corbett (73).
REFEREE: C Lyons (Cork).