AIB Munster Club SHC: Brilliant Ballygunner advance
AIB Munster Club SHC Quarter-Final
Ballygunner 3-20 Ballyea 2-6
By Eoin Brennan at Cusack Park
Ballygunner maintained their good record against Clare opposition when easily accounting for hosts Ballyea in Cusack Park, Ennis.
In front of a crowd of 1,615, the eight-in-a-row Waterford champions completed a fourth successive provincial win over Banner County representatives including doubling the dose on a Tony Kelly-less Ballyea following an extra-extra-time win in 2018 in Walsh Park.
This was a far more straight-forward task as they commandingly led from start to finish, guided by Pauric Mahony’s placed balls and timely goals that proved hammerblows to Ballyea’s hope of replicating their 2016 Munster winning heroics.
The first came after only eight minutes, with Paddy Leavey’s long delivery breaking for chief threats Dessie Hutchinson to play in the unmarked Mikey Mahony to find the net from close range at 1-3 to 0-2. Home goalkeeper Barry Coote prevented an early rout as an expected stop from Hutchinson was better by a wonder save from Pauric Mahony. However, it mattered little as Ballygunner carved out a 1-8 to 0-3 half-time cushion, with only a Mossy Gavin pull into the side-netting providing any resistance.
That one-sided pattern was maintained into the new half as Niall Deasy’s opening free was met by a 1-9 unanswered rally capped off by Billy O’Keeffe’s 49th minute goal after good work from Kevin Mahony at 2-17 to 0-04.
There would be a late kick from the home side when firing two goals in as many minutes through a Niall Deasy penalty and substitute Martin O’Leary. However, even that revolt was counteracted when Mikey Mahony delivered to Billy O’Keeffe to grab the clinching goal as Ballygunner eased into a Munster Semi-Final against the Tipperary champions in a fortnight’s time.
Scorers for Ballygunner: Pauric Mahony 0-8 (4f, 3’65); Billy O’Keeffe 2-1; Mikey Mahony 1-2; Conor Sheahan 0-3; Conor Power 0-2; Paddy Leavey 0-1, Shane O’Sullivan 0-1, Kevin Mahony 0-1, Harry Ruddle 0-1 (1’65)
Scorers for Ballyea: Niall Deasy 1-5 (1-0 Pen, 4f, 1-65); Martin O’Leary 1-0; Pearse Lillis 0-1
Ballygunner: Stephen O’Keeffe; Tadhg Foley, Barry Coughlan, Ian Kenny; Shane O’Sullivan, Philip Mahony, Ronan Power; Conor Sheahan, Paddy Leavey; Mikey Mahony, Pauric Mahony, Peter Hogan; Billy O’Keeffe, Dessie Hutchinson, Kevin Mahony.
Subs: Eddie Hayden for Power (51), Harry Ruddle for K. Mahony (51), Conor Power for Hutchinson (53), Barry O’Sullivan for Leavey (56), Jake Foley for Pauric Mahony (60).
Ballyea: Barry Coote; Cian Meaney, Paul Flanagan, Peter Casey; James Murphy, Jack Browne, Brandon O’Connell; Gary Brennan, Stan Lineen; Cathal O’Connor, Pearse Lillis, Cillian Brennan; Aaron Griffin, Niall Deasy, Mossy Gavin.
Subs: Martin O’Leary for Gavin (HT), Aonghus Keane for O’Connor (44), Ryan Griffin for Lineen (48), Brian Murphy for Meaney (48).
Referee: John O’Halloran (Limerick).