BRENDAN KENNEALLY REPORTS
BALLINCOLLIG hurling got a great late season boost at Ovens as the U21 team took the Mid Cork Premier U21 title in style, winning their first divisional title since 2016.
In a display of skill and heart, the young men from The Village displayed a ferocious will-to-win which ultimately won them the game against a fine Blarney side that laboured under the disadvantage of lining out without their injured Cork senior Shane Barrett.
With Brian Keating at centre forward and Tadhg O’Connell on his left flank in scoring form, Ballincollig had three points on the board in as many minutes. When the main threat in the Blarney attack, Pádraig Power, opened the account for his side, Tadhg O’Connell quickly replied to make it 0-4 to 0-1 for Ballincollig after ten minutes.
Evan Cooke, under pressure, added a further point, Pádraig Power pointed a Blarney free in reply but immediately Cian O’Driscoll restored the four-point advantage for Ballincollig, 0-6 to 0-2 at the end of the opening quarter.
When Brian Keating pointed a 65 in the 17th minute, it seemed that Ballincollig were getting on top but to dispel any feeling of complacency, Blarney hit back forcefully with three points in a row – Jerry Murphy, Power and Cian Barrett the scorers – to cut the deficit to two points in the 19th minute. James Dwyer’s point broke the Blarney momentum, Tadhg O’Connell hit over his third point and when Power pointed a Blarney free, Brian Keating did likewise for ‘Collig who deservedly led by 0-10 to 0-6 at half time.
Two fired-up sides started the second half in unyielding fashion, referee John Horgan was busy and eventually a second yellow card for Cian O’Driscoll, who had earlier put his side five clear, left Ballincollig a man down in the 36th minute.
Blarney, with the numerical advantage and assisted by the wind, now sensed that victory was possible and raised their game but Ballincollig responded to the challenging situation and tore into the fray. Brian Keating pointed a free to send his side six clear, Pádraig Power replied for Blarney with a brace and when the excellent Keating again pointed, Power sent over two more frees in a row to cut the gap to three points 0-14 to 0-11 in the 50th minute.
Again Keating’s accuracy from a free eased the situation for Ballincollig re-opening a four point gap and this was to prove the final score of the game as the last 15 minutes (five added) were largely fought out between the Ballincollig defence and the Power-inspired Blarney attack. Ballincollig goalkeeper David Hurley made inspirational saves behind outstanding full back Sean O’Donoghue and despite unremitting pressure Blarney were denied the goal they needed to save the day and Ballincollig held out for a hard earned victory which was greeted with delight by their players and supporters alike.
Ballincollig: Brian Keating 0-8 (5f, 2 65s); Tadgh O’Connell 0-3; Cian O’Driscoll 0-2; Evan Cooke, James Dwyer 0-1 each. Blarney: P Power 0-9 (7f); Jerry Murphy, Cian Barrett 0-1 each.
Ballincollig: David Hurley; Brian Dore, Sean O’Donoghue, Ronan Power; David O’Sullivan, Harry Ahearne, Pete Kelly; Darragh O’Mahony, James Dwyer; Stephen Wills, Brian Keating, Tadhg O’Connell; Evan Cooke, Paul Cooney, Cian O’Driscoll. Subs: Conor O’Leary for Cooney (41), Conor Dalton for Cooke (58).
Blarney: Eoin O’Neill; Sam O’Sullivan, David Lordan, Craig Walsh; Tiernan Buckley, Darragh Murphy, Joe O’Dwyer; Denis McSweeney, Cian Dunlea; Joe Cronin, Ciarán Sexton, Eoghan Kirby; Jerry Murphy, Pádraig Power (c), Cian Barrett. Subs: Cathal McCarthy for Sexton (41), Luke Kendellen for O’Sullivan (46), Daniel Murphy for D Lordan (inj, 59).
Referee: John Horgan (Gleann na Laoi).