South MHC ‘B’ semi-final
Ballybacon Grange 1-11
Ballybacon Grange reached this year’s South Minor B hurling final in the most dramatic fashion at Clogheen on Friday when full back Colin O’Gorman sent over a free from just outside his own ‘65’ deep in injury time to win by the narrowest of margins over a gallant Cahir team who had led from the fifth minute.
Earlier, in an amazing five minutes of injury time, the same Colin O’Gorman had equalised with a booming point from midfield, a score which everyone had expected would send this pulsating match into extra time. But that wasn’t to be the case as Ballybacon Grange were rewarded for their persistence, trailing by three points with six minutes to go, they hit four unanswered points to turn a three point deficit into a one point winning margin.
As Ballybacon finished the strongest they also started the stronger with two points from Alan Condon in the first five minutes. But then they were rocked when Liam Casey fielded a pass from Daire O’Brien on the edge of the square and beat Jason Burke in the Ballybacon goal to give Cahir the lead which they held until injury time.
They extended that lead to three with a point from Eoin Donaghy, following good work by Aaron Murphy and a Kieran Davis point after a poor clearance from the Ballybacon defence. The game settled into a pattern where Ballybacon Grange had more possession but the Cahir attack were more clinical, converting more of their chances while Ballybacon hit more wides. Aaron Lonergan and Eoin Donaghy exchanged points from long range frees before Phillip Walsh sent over a delightful point for Ballybacon to leave just two between the sides after twenty minutes.
But three unanswered points from Cahir, an Aaron Donaghy free and a wonderful individual effort from Daire O’Brien along with a free from O’Brien opened up a five point lead with half time approached. Aaron Lonergan got one back for Ballybacon when he pointed a free just before the break to leave the half time score 1-6 to 0-5 to Cahir.
The second half began in the same vein, with Cahir keeping that three to four point cushion and being more efficient with their possession while the Ballybacon attack found it difficult to breakdown the Cahir defence. A Daire O’Brien free extended the Cahir lead to five but then Ballybacon eventually found a way through the Cahir defence when Tom Kirwan sent a long ball to Joseph Pickering who, in turn, set up Aaron Lonergan to crash the ball to the net and bring the deficit back to two points. Cahir responded quickly when Eoin Donaghy pointed another free to keep three between the sides. With the tempo of the game increasing Sean Nagle for Ballybacon and Eoin Donaghy exchanged points before Aaron Lonergan pointed a free to leave just two between the sides 1-9 to 1-7, at the end of the third quarter. Cahir extended that lead to three with seven minutes to go when Daire O’Brien pointed a free following a great solo run by Liam Casey.
However that was the last score Cahir got in the game. Ballybacon moved county minor panellist Tom Kirwan forward from centre back with immediate effect and his presence seemed to unsettle the Cahir defence for a while. With six minutes left he pointed a free. Then as full time approached Ballybacon were awarded a penalty following a foul on the industrious Gerry Cronin in the square. With two points between the teams Tom Kirwan went for goal but Keelan Hickey in the Cahir goal, was up to the task and deflected the shot over the bar. This left one point between the sides as the game entered injury time and, in truth, it looked like Ballybacon’s chance had gone as Cahir packed their defence and were dealing with whatever Ballybacon Grange threw at them.
But then up stepped Colin O’Gorman and his huge contribution to the Ballybacon cause with the two brilliant long range points to bring his team into the South final in a breath-taking period of injury time.
Ballybacon Grange now face Killenaule in the final, it will be a tough examination but they can look forward to it with a degree of confidence following the never give up attitude they displayed here and the performances of Colin O’Gorman, Tom Kirwan, Sean Nagle, Alan Condon, Gerry Cronin and Aaron Lonergan.
For Cahir this was a very tough way to lose a semi-final. They might question the amount of injury time played but in the end they had to give best to a very determined Ballybacon team. Scoring only 1-3 from play in the game should not to be enough to win a semi final but on the day Oisin Moloney, Conor Casey, Eoin Donaghy, Kieran Davis, Aaron Murphy and Daire O’Brien did best.
Ballybacon Grange: Jason Burke, Adam Ross Lambert, Colin O’Gorman (0-2)1F, Dara Boyle, Jason Ryan, Tom Kirwan (0-2)2F, Stephen Lambert, Sean Nagle (0-1), Alan Condon (0-2), Colm O’Shaughnessy, Gerry Cronin, Philip Walsh (0-1), Christopher Lambert, Aaron Lonergan (1-3) 3F, Joseph Pickering. Subs Used; Michael Tobin, Michael Hogan, Bernard McHugh.
Cahir: Keelan Hickey, Gavin McCarthy, Oisin Moloney, Mikey O’Connor, Brendan Donaghy, Conor Casey, Ryan O’Donnell, Niall McKenna, Kieran Davis (0-1), Aaron Murphy, Eoin Donaghy (0-5) 4F, Liam Howard, Daire O’Brien (0-4) 3F, Liam Casey (1-0), Cormac Looby. Sub used, James Walsh.
Referee Sean Lonergan