Courcey Rovers 0-18
Noel Horgan Reports
A COUPLE of booming points from frees by substitute Sean Coleman enabled Ballinhassig to collect the county Division 1 hurling league crown at Courcey Rovers’ expense in Páirc Uí Rinn.
Coleman’s initial effort nudged Ballinhassig in front by the minimum a minute into stoppage time, but it was quickly negated by Courceys’ impressive midfielder Killian Moloney, which meant the prospect of extra time loomed large before Coleman was presented with another opportunity to break the deadlock.
Again the nerveless Coleman dissected the posts from distance, allowing Ballinhassig to claim the bragging rights in a dramatic conclusion to a south-rast derby decider that appeared to be heading Courceys’ way for most of the hour.
Ballinhassig manager Donal Lombard was delighted with the result, admitting that the situation looked precarious for his side when they trailed by 0-16 to 0-12 with six minutes of regulation time remaining.
‘I never felt we were in big trouble, but, to be honest, the goal we got at that stage was crucial,’ he said.
‘We were always chasing the game up to then, and we knew coming in that Courceys, having been involved in the county championship final a few weeks ago, were bound to have an edge on us in terms of fitness.
‘I thought the lads showed their true spirit today, and the subs we brought it made a difference, including Sean Coleman, whose two scores from frees near the end were excellent. He wasn’t too happy about being dropped, but he showed what he’s made of when he came on,’ Lombard remarked, adding that the big plus stemming from the victory was that Ballinhassig will compete in the senior hurling league next year.
While Ballinhassig must be credited for their admirable resolve and resilience, Courcey Rovers will probably feel they left the laurels behind them, as they enjoyed the better of the exchanges for long periods.
Hitting the front for the first time inside seven minutes, after Tadgh O’Sullivan pointed two frees in reply to the game’s opening score from Ballinhassig’s Simon O’Neill, Courceys weren’t to fall behind again in the first half. All things considered, Courceys weren’t flattered to go in at half time 0-9 to 0-7 ahead. O’Neill was very much to the fore at centre-forward for Courceys before the break when Killian Moloney showed up well at midfield and their defence resisted stoutly as a unit, even if Fintan O’Leary made his presence felt up front for Ballinhassig, notching five points, three from play.
After Colin Reynolds drew first blood for Ballinhassig on the resumption, O’Leary bagged another score from a free to levels matters at 0-9 apiece in the 32nd minute, but then Jerry O’Neill and Killian Moloney shared a brace for Courceys, who continued to hold the whip-hand in the third quarter.
Trailing by 0-14 to 0-11, it took a fine save by goalkeeper Ger Collins to deny Olan Crowley a goal and keep the Ballinhassig ship afloat in the 47th minute.
They fell further behind after the ever-effective Jerry O’Neill pointed for Courceys two minutes later, but their fading hopes were rekindled in the 55th minute when evergreen full-forward Brendan Lombard, with a brilliant catch and a slick lay-off, created a golden opportunity that was finished to the net with aplomb by Colin Reynolds. Fintan O’Leary quickly levelled matters, and Ballinhassig – despite losing wing back James O’Callaghan to a second yellow card in the 57th minute – eventually regained the lead after O’Leary and Sean Coleman both converted frees in stoppage time.
Ballinhassig: F O’Leary 0-8 (4f), Colin Reynolds 1-2, S Coleman 0-2 (f), S O’Neill, C Tyers, M Collins, C O’Mahony 0-1 each.
Courcey Rovers: T O’Sullivan 0-6 (5f), J O’Neill 0-4, K Moloney 0-3, S Nyhan 0-2f, C Daly, S Twomey, J McCarthy 0-1 each.
Ballinhassig: G Collins; D O’Donovan, Chris Reynolds, E Lombard; J O’Callaghan, M Aherne, C Desmond; S McCarthy, G Sheehan; C Tyers, Colin Reynolds, F O’Leary; S O’Neill, B Lombard, C O’Mahony.
Subs: M Collins for Sheehan (ht), S Coleman for M Collins (inj, 42), P O’Leary for E Lombard (49), A O’Mahony for O’Neill (59), D Dullea for Tyers (63).
Courcey Rovers: S Nyhan; K Collins, B Collins,M Collins; D Lordan, D Duggan,F Lordan; K Moloney B Mulcahy; C Daly, J O’Neill,G Moloney: T O’Sullivan, O Crowley, R Nyhan.
Subs: S Twomey for G Moloney (ht), J McCarthy for Nyhan (ht), M O’Donovan for Daly (48), D Coghlan for Duggan (48).
Referee: T Creedon (Douglas).