Ballingarry opened their senior hurling championship campaign with a comfortable six points win over Boherlahan/Dualla in Cashel on Saturday evening last.
The South Tipperary side, who only retained their senior status with a relegation final play-off win over Cashel last year, came away from Leahy Park, confident they will avoid such an ordeal this time around.
For Boherlahan/Dualla though it may be a different story. While this may only have been their first outing of the year, Saturday’s display seemed somewhat off the pace for competitive senior hurling. With their two remaining games in Group 3 against Toomevara and Mullinahone, it would be difficult, judging on the performance against Ballingarry, to see where the league points will come from.
Write them off at your peril though, they are a club steeped in history and tradition and the accompanying pride that goes with that.
The Mid side opened brightly with a long-range point from midfielder Brian Maher after 10 seconds. But they soon found themselves behind. Philip Ivors pointed to level and the same player finished off a nice move involving Ian Ivors and an unselfish Eamon Tuohy for the first goal after three minutes.
The scores kept coming at a pace with Ballingarry 1-3 to 0-3 up after seven minutes, with Brian Maher adding his second point matched by a fine effort by Adrian Cleere.
Boherlahan hit a purple patch and the next eight scores went their way as Brian Maher, Andrew Downey and Darragh Hickey in particular came to the fore. In a two-minute spell Boherlahan hit four unanswered points from Darragh Hickey (3) and Fionn McCullagh.
Further points from Seamus Leahy, Darragh Hickey (2) and Brian Maher put them 0-11 to 1-3 ahead after 20 minutes as they made good use of the wind at their backs.
A long range free from Ian Ivors which landed around the house wasn’t dealt with by the Boherlahan backs and Philip Ivors mopped up the dirty ball and blasted his second goal of the game.
Two further points from Seanie Cahill (free) and Ian Ivors to one from Darragh Hickey left the interval score at 0-12 to 2-5 for Boherlahan.
After an opening exchange of second half points from Philip Ivors and Seamus Leahy, Ballingarry seized control with seven of the next eight points to lead 2-13 to 0-14 at the three-quarters stage.
Five unanswered points in seven minutes pulled them clear. Seanie Cahill’s 65 and a huge free from inside his own half by keeper James Logue were followed by points from Ciarán Shelly, Richard Butler and Philip Ivors (free) as a slicker hurling Ballingarry got on top.
Another Darragh Hickey free was cancelled by a magnificent swivelling point by Philip Ivors with his back to goal and a second monster free from goalie Logue.
Thereafter Ballingarry kept control and the half-back line of Gerry Fitzgerald, Tom McGrath and Tom Butler dominated their patch. Boherlahan were increasingly finding it difficult to find scores from play and over the hour over-relied on Darragh Hickey. The centre-forward accounted for 13 points of his side’s total with 10 of those white flags coming from placed balls.
In the dying minutes Boherlahan added five points, four from Darragh Hickey frees and one great point from Aidan Maher. The ability to take scores from play was a significant difference between the sides. In the same closing period Ballingarry hit a half dozen all from play from Ciarán Shelly, Adrian Cleere (2), William Ryan, Cillian Tuohy and Seanie Cahill. Both Cleere points were particularly brilliant, one from the corner flag almost, and the other from the opposite wing.
Ballingarry came away from Leahy Park happy with the win and the implications of it, but cognizant that better will be needed against Mullinahone and Toomevara.
Boherlahan, who won a similar type opening-day ‘relegation battle’ against Cashel in Dundrum last year, will be very concerned now. They too will have to find an even greater improvement if they are not to follow in the path of their now intermediate grade near-neighbours, Cashel.
Ballingarry: James Logue (0-2F), Kevin Fitzgerald, Ger Fennelly, John Molloy, Gerry Fitzgerald, Tom McGrath, Tom Butler, Ian Ivors (0-1), Richard Butler (0-1), Ciarán Shelly (0-2), Jack Fennelly, Adrian Cleere (0-3), Eamon Tuohy, Philip Ivors (2-4, 0-1F), Seanie Cahill (0-4, 0-2F, 0-1 ‘65).
Subs: William Ryan (0-1) for Tom Butler (inj., 48 minutes), Cillian Tuohy (0-1) for Eamonn Tuohy (56 mins), Kevin Pollard for Richard Butler (70 mins).
Boherlahan/Dualla: Brian Quinn, A.J. Maher, Seamus Hickey, Laurence Devane, Aidan Maher, Darragh Devane, John Dwyer, Brian Maher (0-3), Andrew Downey, Paul Ryan, Darragh Hickey (0-13, 0-10F), Seamus Leahy (0-2), Tomás Ryan, Laurence Hickey, Fionn McCullough (0-1).
Subs: Colm O’Dwyer for Andrew Downey (inj., half-time), Kieran O’Sullivan for Tomás Ryan (42 mins).
Referee: Ger Fitzpatrick.