South u-21 HCC ‘A’
Ballybacon Grange 2-11 Mullinahone CJK 1-12
Coming in to this Bob Fitzgerald-sponsored South U21A hurling tie played in Monroe on Saturday afternoon, Mullinahone had already qualified for a semi-final berth while Ballybacon had to get something out of the game if they were to avoid a tricky path to the semi-finals. In the end perhaps it was this greater incentive which saw Ballybacon through although in the final seconds Mullinahone had at least two chances to steal the game but were eventually deprived of a match winning goal by the upright. Although the game produced 26 scores, three of them goals, too many of the scores were the result of placed balls. In this respect Billy Hewitt (B) and Cathal Horan(M) were excellent. Hewitt who lined out at centre back for Ballybacon was probably the man of the match. His fine hurling and good sense of position saw him cut out many Mullinahone attacks and dominate a number of Mullinahone prospective centre forwards. Other big men in nearly every sense in the Ballybacon team were Tom Kirwan, Jonathan Ryan, the two Aarons in midfield, Daniel O’Regan, James O’Mahony and Chris Lambert who scored the second goal.
The scoring opened with a point from a free by Cathal Horan after three minutes. Billy Hewitt replied with a point in six, also from a free. Cathal Horan pointed another free in seven minutes but again Billy Hewitt equalised in 12 minutes. Two minutes later Tom Kirwan goaled for Ballybacon having been yellow carded some minutes previously. Daniel O’Regan pointed for Ballybacon but Cathal Horan replied from yet another free.
In 21 minutes Horan had a point from play but a free to Ballybacon resulted in yet another Hewitt point. O’Regan scored his second point in 24 minutes but Jack Shelly cut the gap with a point in the next minute. Hewitt still had the radar working in 27 minutes. Denis Connolly cut the gap to a goal with a point in the first minute of added time. Half time Ballybacon Grange 1-6 Mullinahone CJK 0-6
In the first minute of the second half Mullinahone struck for a goal from Eoin Fennelly and a point from Luke Mullally. Cathal Horan pointed for Mullinahone. In the 13th minute came what turned out to be the decisive goal when Chris Lambert was nicely placed and he found the corner of Walsh’s net. Another free followed and another Hewitt point. Cathal Horan replied in kind and we waited for Mullinahone to up the tempo as we entered the final quarter. Another free was given away and the deadly Hewitt made no mistake in 17 minutes.
A Ballybacon point in 23rd minutes pushed them four points clear. On 26 minutes Horan ponted a Mullinahone 65. It was CJK’s first score in 10 minutes and only their second since the fourth minute of the half. All these scores came from frees. Suddenly Mullinahone clicked as time was running out. Jack Shelly and Cathal Horan both pointed but as they strove for the equaliser yet another free was conceded to the deadly Hewitt who duly pointed and there was no way back.
Some will be surprised at Ballybacon coming out on top. It should not be forgotten that as minors three years ago Ballybacon won the South title defeating Ballingarry by a point in the final. A good number of the Ballybacon lads stepped up to the mark when needed. The same cannot be said of Mullinahone. Very few of their players struck top form. Their backs conceded only two goals but they conceded an awful lot of scorable frees. Eoin Fennelly played well enough in midfield. Up front Jack Shelly did well in open play but the mobile 17 year old is not an under 21 centre forward. Cathal Horan struck a lot of dead balls very well but more would be expected from him in open play.
Ballybacon Grange - Philip Murphy, Sean Nagle, Jonathan Ryan, Jason Coffey, Darren Bray, Billy Hewitt, Karl Costigan, Aaron Cowan, Aaron Lonergan, James O’Mahoney, Daniel O’Regan, Chris Lambert, Tom Kirwan, Michael Goonan.
Mullinahone CJK - Richard Walsh, Jack McCarthy, George Browning, Paul Gayson, Keith Mullally, Gary Cronin, David Walzer, Luke Mullally, Eoin Fennelly, Danny Luttrell, Jack Shelly, Cathal Horan, Tony Treacy, Denis Connolly, Stephen Quirke. Sub used Sean Walzer
Referee - Paddy Ivors (Ballingarry)