Tenacious Bal deserved their victory in U21 final

Mikey Kirby, captain of the Ballinascarthy team, raises the Cup after his side defeated Watergrasshill in the Cork county U21 B hurling championship final at Páirc Uí Rinn on Saturday evening. (Photo: Paddy Feen)

 

Ballinascarthy 2-7, Watergrasshill 0-9

NOEL HORGAN REPORTS

THE signs were ominous for Ballinascarthy midway through the second half of the county U21 ‘B’ hurling championship final at Pairc Ui Rinn last Saturday evening.

Having led by five points after 28 minutes, and gone in at half time 1-5 to 0-4 to the good, the Carbery standard-bearers had failed to add to their tally on the turnover against a Watergrasshill side that appeared to be very much in the ascendancy as the last quarter dawned.

The teams were tied at that juncture and, while Jeremy Ryan eased the pressure on Ballinascarthy with a converted free won by effective substitute Cian Hennessy, Watergrasshill still had the momentum approaching the last ten minutes.

Then came a sequence of play which swung the match decisively in Ballinascarthy’s favour, with ‘keeper Gerard Kirby doing well to prevent a probing delivery from a ’65 by Watergrasshill custodian Aidan Foley from crossing the goal-line before a counter-attack ensued, resulting in a cracking goal from corner forward Eoin O’Brien.

It restored the initiative to Ballinascarthy, and the excellence of their defence, in which Chris Ryan was a majestic figure at full back, ensured they went on to register a famous victory.

The unbridled scenes of elation at the finish showed just how much it meant to a club that has had its share of internal problems over the past two seasons, and it was richly merited on the overall run of the play.

Ballinascarthy were certainly the more convincing side in the first half when Jeremy Ryan and Seamus McCarthy gave them an edge at midfield, and Daniel Nyhan was in sparkling form on the ’40.

After McCarthy won a free which allowed Ryan to get them off the mark, Ballinascarthy’s prospects received a major boost in the 9th minute when Nyhan had an effort for a goal parried by Aidan Foley, and wing forward Michael Crowley was on hand to boot home the rebound.

Nyhan brought the best out of Watergrasshill ’keeper Foley again shortly afterwards, and he finally got on the scoresheet himself in the 19th minute, completing an excellent move involving wing back David Walsh, Cillian Cullinane and Michael Crowley to make 1-2 to 0-2.

Jeremy Ryan quickly stretched the gap to four points, and Cullinane, who was another to shine up front before the break, tacked on two more, both of which stemmed from great work by the irrepressible Daniel Nyhan, as Ballinascarthy moved five ahead.

It’s a measure of Ballinascarthy’s control at the back that Watergrasshill were forced to depend entirely on Shane O’Regan’s accuracy from frees for penetration until corner forward Ben Halbert found the target in the 29th. minute.

For the second half, Watergrasshill moved full back Brendan Moloney on to Daniel Nyhan, and switched wing forward James McCarthy to full forward.

The changes brought results, with Moloney keeping a tighter rein on Nyhan, and McCarthy to the fore in attack, as the East-Cork lads began to nibble away at the deficit.

McCarthy scored a point, earned a free which yielded another from Shane O’Regan, and placed Ben Halbert for his second point before midfielder O’Regan brought Watergrasshill level, 1-5 to 0-8, from a placed ball in the 42nd. minute.

On top in the half back line, and, to a lesser extent, at midfield, Watergrasshill, despite slipping behind by a point again, were beginning to shape up like winners until they were rocked back on their heels by Eoin O’Brien’s superb individual goal for Ballinascarthy in the 48th minute.

To their credit, Watergrasshill didn’t wilt following that setback, and they continued to press hard during an enthralling last ten minutes.

The Ballinascarthy rearguard stood firm, however, with David O’Brien and Mikey Kirby providing excellent support for the imperious Chris Ryan to complete an unwavering last line of defence.

Barry Walsh, Aidan O’Donovan and David Walsh were equally resolute in the half back line, as Ballinascarthy repeatedly repulsed Watergrasshill’s efforts to salvage the match in the closing stages.

Watergrasshill will bemoan the fact that they accumulated 15 wides, eight more than the winners over the hour, but that was largely due to Ballinascarthy’s admirable tenacity and work-rate.

It meant that Watergrasshill, more often than not, were forced to shoot hurriedly when in possession, and, in essence, it was a gutsy team display that carried the day for Ballinascarthy, with every player putting a shoulder to the wheel at some stage.

Scorers:

Ballinascarthy: J Ryan 0-4, 0-3 frees, M Crowley and E O’Brien 1-0 each, C Cullinane 0-2, D Nyhan 0-1

Watergrasshill: S O’Regan 0-6, frees, B Halbert 0-2, J McCarthy 0-1

Ballinascarthy: G Kirby, D O’Brien, C Ryan, M Kirby, B Walsh, S O’Donovan, D Walsh, J Ryan, S McCarthy, J O’Flynn, D Nyhan, M Crowley, E O’Brien, C Nyhan, C Cullinane.

Sub: C Hennessy for C Nyhan.

Watergrasshill: A Foley, S O’Rourke, B Moloney, M Kennedy, B Fenton, P Cronin, S Field, S O’Regan, D O’Farrell, J McCarthy, TJ Forde, W Connolly, D O’Callaghan, C Fenton, B Halbert.

Sub: G Hogan for Forde.

Referee – M Maher (St Finbarr’s).

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