new kings Ballygunner crowned All-Ireland champions for first time following sensational victory over Ballyhale
Ballygunner 2-17 Ballyhale Shamrocks 1-19
In a sensational finish, Ballygunner won the All-Ireland club hurling final with a goal from substitute Harry Ruddle, the last puck of the game deep into injury time. Ballyhale Shamrocks looked to have done enough to become the first team to win three titles back-to-back, but Ruddle hit a shot from 25m low to the corner past Dean Mason.
It left Ballyhale shattered at the final whistle and saw the tables cruelly turned, after they had pulled off late escapes with goals in the Leinster semi final and All-Ireland semi final three weeks ago. TJ Reid scored 0-8 and Evan Shefflin had a fine match in a half back line that scored 0-4 from play. But ultimately it was to no avail.
The win means that for the first time the Tommy Moore Cup will go to Waterford. In what was Ballylgunner’s first ever final appearance, Dessie Hutchinson delivered a big performance scoring 1-3 from play, and Mikey Mahony hit 0-3.
Hutchinson's goal in the 48th minute revived his side and brought them to within a point of Ballyhale who looked to have taken a vital advantage when sub Eoin Reid scored their goal just five minutes earlier, pulling to the net after Colin Fennelly’s effort was saved by Stephen O’Keeffe.
But the Hutchinson goal threw the match wide open when a route one ball was fielded by the forward over Darren Mullen, before he turned and shot past Mason.
Yet Ballyhale, helped by some poor Ballygunner finishing, looked to have settled after the set-back and responded in the right way. Three points from Adrian Mullen, TJ Reid and Richie Reid left them four points up with four minutes of normal time to go. Hutchison, Kevin Mahony and Pauric Mahony scored to reduce the margin to a point, leaving a tense finish.
When Evan Shefflin scored in injury time to put Ballyhale, the eight times All-Ireland champions, two points up they looked like they would hold on. But then Ruddle got his chance and took it spectacularly.
Ballyhale held a three-point lead at half time, in a match played in perfect conditions, a clear bright day, with only a light breeze. But the hurling disappointed, a lack of real intensity and flair, falling well below expectations before improving after the break.
With a low attendance the atmosphere for an All-Ireland final was strangely subdued, even though the match was closely contested for most of the first half, the teams level on five occasions.
Darren Mullen overcame an injury concern to take up Hutchinson, the Waterford danger-man ending the first half with two points and a serious threat when ball was delivered his way. Mullen’s task was given an added burden when he picked up a yellow card, while Mikey Mahony also hit two good early scores for the Waterford side.
But they were wasteful, hitting seven first half wides to let Ballyhale off the hook, and another seven in the second half. There was also a goal chance when a passing move left Billy O’Keeffe with a shooting chance in the 24th minute. Brian Butler, a late inclusion for Kevin Mullen, made a vital block by throwing his body in the way.
After Kevin Mahony put Ballygunner 0-5 to 0-3 ahead in the 16th minute, Ballyhoo hit a good spell with scores from Patrick Mullen, Evan Shefflin and a fine sole score from Eoin Cody, tightly policed by Ian Kenny, to move a point clear. Patric Mahony levelled with a free won by Hutchinson, who had the last score of the first half, leaving Balygunner 0-7 to 0-10 in arrears.
Scorers: Ballyhale - TJ Reid 0-8 (4 fs, 65); E Reid 1-0; A Mullen, E Shefflin 0-2 each; E Cody, P Mullen, J Cuddihy, D Corcoran, B Cody, C Fennelly, R Reid 0-1 each.
Ballygunner - Pauric Mahony 0-7 (7 fs), D Hutchinson 1-3; H Ruddle 1-0; M Mahony 0-3; B O’Keeffe, K Mahony 0-2 each.
Ballyhale: D Mason; D Mullen, J Holden, B Butler; E Shefflin, R Reid, D Corcoran; C Walsh, P Mullen; A Mullen, TJ Reid, J Cuddihy; B Cody, C Fennelly, E Cody.
Subs: E Reid for Walsh (ht); K Mullen for Butler (inj 33);
Ballygunner: S O’Keeffe; T Foley, B Coughlan, I Kenny; S O’Sullivan, Philip Mahony, R Power; C Sheahan, P Leavey; Pauric Mahony, P Hogan, M Mahony; D Hutchinson, K Mahony, B O’Keeffe.
Subs: C Power for B O’Keeffe (46); H Ruddle for Sheahan (53);
Referee: J Owens (Wexford).
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