AIB Munster Club SHC: Ballygunner return to final
AIB Munster Club SHC Semi-Final
Ballygunner 0-16 Na Piarsaigh 1-9
By Tom Clancy at TUS Gaelic Grounds
Ballygunner return to an AIB Munster Club SHC final after edging beyond Limerick’s Na Piarsaigh, despite a late scare.
After winning out in the same clash 364 days ago, the Gunners were clear favourites. However, this was a meeting of two powerhouses of Munster.
There was a late revival from Na Piarsaigh, who trailing by six in a surprisingly low scoring contest, found a late 1-2 and went close to a second goal, which may have forced extra-time. Shane O’Neill’s side, who retained their Limerick crown recently, will be frustrated they didn’t gear anywhere near their best.The games first score from play was after two minutes from Will Henn, but such avenues to the scoreboard were at a premium.Pauric Mahony was the scorer in chief early on for Darragh O’Sullivan’s men. He scored their first three points – with two frees and a 65 putting them into a 13th minute lead, of just a point.
Ronan Power was accurate with an effort from halfway, as the men in red-and-black nailed just one of two from play in the opening 30 minutes.
It was a four-point game with Hutchinson got his name on the scoresheet in the 22nd minute, this after a typically surging run from Kevin Mahony.
The Gunners held a slender half-time lead, 0-7 to 0-6 after Ronan Lynch landed two frees and a 65 to close the half. Both sides struggled with the elements with Na Piarsaigh backed by the strong Shannonside breeze. They would end the half with five wides, compared to just one from the Waterford champions.
Shane O’Neill will have been as frustrated by a number of blocked efforts for points from his forwards. That said, a fine Shane Dowling save from Hutchinson and a Mike Casey block on the same player, meant they didn’t concede an early goal.
Mahony scored the opening brace of the second half to put three between them once more.
Before an official attendance of 3,627, the Waterford men stepped on the gas with six points on the bounce. Among those was sub Harry Ruddle, while Power contributed among a Mahony’s efforts.
Lynch did eventually cut the gap to six with a brace of frees, but they hadn’t scored from play in over 40 minutes.
A goal, pulled to the net entering stoppage time, arrived from the stick of poacher, Adrian Breen. Then, with just three in it, David Dempsey had a chance from close range with Stephen O’Keeffe scrambled clear.
Mahony would bring his total to 11 when scoring a routine free, but this crucially restored a two-score lead which they’d craved.
Ballygunner will face Clare champions Clonlara who had a late salvo to see of Tipperary's Kiladangan.**
Scorers for Ballygunner: **Pauric Mahony 0-11 (6fs, 2 65s), Dessie Hutchinson, Ronan Power 0-2 each; Harry Ruddle 0-1.
*Scorers for Na Piarsaigh: *Ronan Lynch 0-7 (6fs, 1 65), Adrian Breen 1-1, Will Henn 0-1.
Ballygunner: Stephen O’Keeffe; Ian Kenny, Barry Coughlan, Tadhg Foley; Shane O’Sullivan, Phillip Mahony, Ronan Power; Conor Sheahan, Paddy Leavey; Peter Hogan, Mikey Mahony, Pauric Mahony; Patrick Fitzgerald; Dessie Hutchinson, Kevin Mahony.
Subs: Harry Ruddle for Fitzgerald (46 mins); Billy O’Keeffe for Hogan (59 mins).**
Na Piarsaigh: Shane Dowling; Emmet McEvoy, Mike Casey (C), Cathal King; Mike Foley, Will O’Donoghue, Vince Harrington; Conor Boylan, David Dempsey; JJ Carey, Peter Casey, Kevin Downes; Will Henn, Ronan Lynch, Adrian Breen.
Subs: Keith Dempsey for Carey (42 mins), John Fitzgerald for Foley (48 mins); Wayne Kearns for King (52 mins).
**Referee: Michael Kennedy (Tipperary).