South Tipp U-21A hurling
Ballybacon are more impressive
Ballybacon Grange 4-14, Mullinahone C.J. Kickhams 2-09
Report by Ricky Sheehan
How deceptive the first few minutes can be in a hurling game was clearly proved in Munroe on Sunday morning. Ballybacon lined out against Mullinahone in what was nominally a league section match in the U-21A championship. In reality, the game was a glorified challenge as both teams had already qualified for the divisional semi-final. Both had already beaten Ballingarry. Basically, what was at stake then was which side would top the group and gain the more favoured place in the semi-finals. The other section was not so far advanced as St. Mary’s took on Carrick Swan in the first game to be played in the other section, later in the afternoon. Mullinahone swept into action and within three minutes they were three points up. Ballybacon didn’t panic. They steadied the ship and by the eight minute they had drawn level with points from Daniel O’Regan, Philip Murphy and O’Regan again. Mullinahone’s early salvo had come from Micheál Dunne (2) and Cathal Horan. In the seventh minute, Ballybacon keeper Colm O’Gorman made a smart save even if the Mullinahone shot was mishit from close in.
Philip Murphy pointed Ballybacon into the lead, but a Micheál Dunne goal in 10 minutes restored Mullinahone’ s lead. Dunne was fouled as he attempted to go through, but his shot went into the net and the goal stood. Ballybacon came back and a bad blunder in the Kickham’s defence allowed Christopher Lambert to goal. Aaron Cowan followed up with a Ballybacon point and in the 16th minute Daniel O’Regan lashed a Ballybacon penalty to the net. Just previously O’Regan had missed a scorable free, but his blood must have been up as he belted the penalty in. Christopher Lambert became the first player to see yellow in the game. Joey Phelan followed him into the book in 25 minutes. This time Cathal Horan pointed the resultant free but Mullinahone lost midfielder Diarmuid O’Halloran. He was replaced by Jack McCarthy. Ballybacon full forward Daniel O’Regan who was winning an amount of possession pointed in 27 minutes and goaled in 29, the result of another defensive lapse. The half ended with a Michael Goonan point. Half time score Ballybacon Grange 3-07 Mullinahone 1-04
Cathal Horan opened the 2nd half with a point from a free. At the other end O’Regan continued his tour de force with two points in eight and nine minutes. James O’Mahony then got on the scoreboard before O’Regan brought the score to 3-11. Micheál Dunne and Jerry Cronin then exchanged points. Sean Nagle (B) and later Micheál Dunne (M) in 24 minutes were rather lucky in the choice of card that they received. O’Regan pointed again for Ballybacon before Graham Horan and Sean Walzer had Mullinahone’s first two points in a row since the early stages. Michael Goonan goaled for Ballybacon but Mullinahone hit back and pressure brought them a second goal even if this was of the og variety. Scoring dried up in the final minutes with a Graham Horan point for Mullinahone the only score. Final score Ballybacon Grange 4-14, Mullinahone C.J. Kickhams 2-09.
Ballybacon have much to be pleased about. They didn’t panic after a lightening C.J.K start. They won by eleven points even if some of their goals could be described as fortunate. They were more determined to win possession and when they did they played the more direct hurling, more suited to the weather conditions. Mullinahone, on the other hand, seemed to think that we were still in summer and as a result of this too much of their hurling was of the touch and one-handed variety. They were short a number of players, but determination seemed to be lacking in the team. Among their better known players only Eoin Fennelly stood out. Up front Micheál Dunne was the only one to threaten danger and even he found himself too far from goal too often. Ballybacon had many more “go to” players. Daniel O’Regan had a great game winning an amount of ball and scoring at will. He was well supported by the other forwards. Ballybacon controlled midfield from start to finish and it was surprising that Mullinahone didn’t try to curb Aaron Cowan. At the back Colm O’Gorman was sound. The full back line was well held together by Sean Nagle while Micky O’Sullivan had a very good game at centre back. Of the two teams, Ballybacon should be the more confident in the upcoming semi-final, but a change of attitude and the return of some players could improve Mullinahone’s chances though they must now be outsiders.
Ballybacon Grange, Colm O’Gorman, Colm Shaughnessy, Sean Nagle, Philip Walsh, Darren Bray, Micky O’Sullivan, Joey Phelan, Aaron Cowan, Eren Lonergan, James O’Mahoney, Jerry Cronin, Philip Murphy, Christopher Lambert, Daniel O’Regan, Michael Goonan’
Mullinahone: Joe Hogan, Edward Dunne, George Browning, Kevin McGrath, James Phelan, Eoin Fennelly, Paul Gayson, Diarmuid O’Halloran, Sean Walzer, Cathal Horan, Luke Mullally, Stephen Quirke, Graham Horan, Micheal Dunne, John O’Grady. Subs: Jack McCarthy, Colin Byrne.
Referee: Keith Delahunty. (Moyle Rovers)