Ballybacon/Grange's Gavin Whelan blasts home one of two second half goals he scored in his side's 5-24 to 1-4 win today at Ardfinnan against Kenmare.
Munster Junior Hurling Championship Quarter-Final
BALLYBACON/GRANGE 5-24 :: 1-4 KENMARE
Ballybacon/Grange strolled to the easiest of victories in a totally one-sided Munster Junior Hurling Championship quarter-final against Kerry representatives Kenmare at Ardfinnan on Saturday last.
Indeed, long before the full-time whistle was sounded the Tipperary side had ensured their passage to the provincial semi-finals, but in truth they will have gained little or learned much from what was little more than a training session for them.
Still awaiting their county final, but selected to represent the county on the basis that Toomevara have more than one team, Ballybacon/Grange after a slow opening quarter eventually put the Kerry boys to the sword.
At the interval the home side already looked home and hosed leading by 2-11 to 1-3, but if the first half was one-sided the second half was simply off the scale with Ballybacon outscoring the visitors by 3-13 to 0-1. There was no sense or meaning to the game in the end such was the gulf in class between the sides. Kenmare who were only third choice as Kerry representatives after Kilgarvan and Dr. Crokes had declined the offer, were no match for a very decent home outfit.
The winners now find themselves still in two competitions as we begin November – a county decider against Toome’ and a Munster semi-final – but they would surely have welcomed a stiffer test in preparation for both of these. For the visitors, it was a second visit to South Tipperary inside a year. Twelve months ago Kenmare’s intermediate footballers, en route to a provincial title, stopped off in Clonmel to annihilate Tipp champions Fethard by 4-25 to 0-5; a year later though the shoe was on the other foot in the small ball code.
After 10 minutes of Saturday's game though no one could have envisaged the eventual outcome as the two sides were level at 0-2 apiece. However a 12th minute goal from Daniel O’Regan after the Kenmare keeper Patrick Palmer failed to deal adequately with a sideline cut handed the initiative softly to the home side. Five minutes later the busy Palmer was forced off with a wrist injury forcing Johnny Breen back from full-forward to take up the custodian’s role.
Michael O'Sullivan (B/G) and David Crowley (K) battle for possession.
Around this time Ballybacon found a rich vein of form with five rapid points from play from Aidan Savage, Gerry Cronin, Aaron Lonergan, Daniel O’Regan and midfielder Brian Dillon. A second goal rifled home in the 23rd minute by Declan Walsh, after another long sideline cut had caused consternation in the Kenmare goalmouth, put Ballybacon eight points clear and there was no way back for the South Kerry outfit after that.
Kenmare midfielder and captain Kevin O’Sullivan then hit a point from half-way for his side’s first point from play after 26 minutes – the two earlier scores were James Duncan frees. And it was Duncan again who had the honour of scoring his side’s only goal in the 29th minute after O’Sullivan’s long delivery bobbled about in Brendan Cummins’ goalmouth area. Not too many Kerrymen can boast of having beaten the five-times Hurling All-Star keeper with a goal.
At the break Ballybacon, managed by Sean Maher, were all of 11 points to the good at 2-11 to 1-3 with all six forwards having scored from play. At the break it looked ominous for the visitors.
And so it turned out as within 90 seconds of the restart Ballybacon, via Declan Walsh, Michael O’Sullivan and the outstanding Aaron Lonergan, had tagged on three more points without reply.
Indeed there was to be just one reply from Kenmare in the entire second half, a free from halfway by James Duncan on 38 minutes.
Ten minutes after the re-start Gavin Whelan, just on the field as an early second half sub, banged home his side’s third goal after a good move involving Michael Barlow and Aaron Lonergan.
Daniel O'Regan (B/G) heads for goal chased by Shane Duncan (K).
The fourth goal came soon afterwards when ‘man of the match’ Aaron Lonergan soloed through to blast low to the net on the run making it 4-17 to 1-4 with 17 minutes still to play.
Gavin Whelan completed the goalscoring in the 48th minute when finishing nicely for his second goal.
The remaining 12 minutes was more akin to a backs-and-forwards session with the attackers having the better of it, during which time Michael Barlow (2), Aaron Lonergan, Oisin Ryan, Billy Hewitt and Johnny English all got their names on the scoreboard with points. By the end of the day 13 different Ballybacon players had scored.
Ballybacon will scarcely get a handier game than this ever but they can only play what is put in front of them. The backline were on top throughout conceding a meagre 1-1 from open play with Michael Barlow to the fore with a lot of deliveries. In the forwards Billy Hewitt was central in so much of their good work with Daniel O’Regan and Aaron Lonergan in particular scoring well. Substitute Gavin Whelan took his two goals excellently.
Kenmare are one of just four junior sides in the whole of the Kingdom and in fairness to them they took on the Munster challenge when others declined. With little hurling done this year - one game in competitive action – it was clear that they were lacking match sharpness against Ballybacon. But what they lacked in first touch and craft they more than made up for in effort and the likes of Kevin O’Sullivan, James Duncan, Tommy O’Sullivan, Maurice Fitzgerald and especially David Cronin who played his heart out in an overstretched back line, gave of their all. You can only but admire their efforts and attitude in hurling honestly to the very end.
Ballybacon's centre-forward Billy Hewitt soloes through the heart of the Kenmare defence with Kenmare captain Kevin O'Sullivan in pursuit.
Brendan Cummins (0-1F), Philip Walsh, Eoin Walsh, Craig Carrigan (Captain), Sean Nagle, Colin O’Gorman, Michael Barlow (0-2), Michael O’Sullivan (0-1), Brian Dillon (0-1), Daniel O’Regan (1-3), Billy Hewitt (0-4), Gerry Cronin (0-1), Aaron Lonergan (1-6, 0-2F), Declan Walsh (1-2), Aidan Savage (0-1).
Subs: Colm O’Shaughnessy for Carrigan (35), Gavin Whelan (2-0) for D. Walsh (35), James O’Mahoney for O’Regan (43), Johnny English (0-1) for Savage (45) Oisin Ryan (0-1) for O’Sullivan (47).
Patrick Palmer, Maurice Fitzgerald, Tommy O’Sullivan, David Cronin, Paul O’Sullivan, Brian O’Sullivan, David Crowley, Kevin O’Sullivan (Captain, 0-1), Colm O’Sullivan, James Duncan (1-3, 0-3F), David Hallissey, Shane Duncan, Micheál McCarthy, Johnny Breen, Joseph Doyle.
Subs: Shannon Ryan for Palmer (inj, 17), Aidan Quinlan for Ryan (35), Brian Finnegan for Doyle (43), Mort O’Shea for P. O’Sullivan (50).
Referee: Joe Larkin (Cork).