Ballygiblin 1-9 Caherline 0-10
BALLYGIBLIN’S dream of lifting a provincial title remains firmly on track after the North Cork side battled past Caherline of Limerick to book their place in the AIB Munster Junior Hurling final, which will be held in early January.
It'll be a fascinating clash with neighbours from over the border in Tipperary, Skeheenarinky.
The Cork champions had to again dig deep to take the spoils, something this particular group of players seem to be getting used to after securing their first county title just a few weeks previous. They were without Mark Keane, now back Down Under preparing for the new Aussie Rules season, but didn't let that deter them.
It was a particularly sweet victory for their dual players, beaten last weekend in the IAFC final with Mitchelstown.
A goal on 40 minutes from Ballygiblin’s Dillon Sheehan would ultimately be the difference on the day however the victors had to battle hard in the latter stages as the Limerick champions pushed all the way to the final whistle.
For the Avondhu men, Darragh Flynn, Sheehan, Joseph O’Sullivan and Dean Barry stood tall along with the two defensive lines who had to work really hard as the pressure came on late on.
For the Treaty side, Andrew Brennan, Aaron Power and James Enright were the standout players with eight of their 10-point tally.
Their midfield pairing of Jack Carroll and Paraic Wixted also shone however on the day they were just pipped at the post by a side that really did look destined to win when Sheehan raised the only green flag of over the 70 minutes of hurling.
From the off this was a well contested, hard, but genuine provincial semi-final as both sides stuck to their game plans throughout.
Both teams looked to move the ball long as quick as possible in order to contend with the very windy and heavy conditions with Ballygiblin going high in the opening 30+ minutes to take advantage of what was a serious diagonal gale.
The Cork men were first on the board with a free from their talisman Darragh Flynn, a new Cork senior panellist, on four minutes. Caherline responded with a free of their own from centre forward Andrew Brennan as the game settled down to a very credible pace.
Colin English had Ballygiblin back in front soon after, the first of only five points from play in the opening half.
Flynn added another pair of frees with Barry also chipping in with his point on the run. A class score that was needed at the time.
Caherline had scores from Brennan, Enright and Power as they finished the half with just five points – but more than well in the hunt for the victory.
It would have been Ballygiblin supporters that would have been worried at the interval as their side led by just the minimum, 0-6 to 0-5, this despite having a serious gale to their backs.
Those concerns would have been reinforced shortly after the restart as Caherline took the lead for the first time but Ballygiblin had that major on 40 minutes which settled them back into a three-point lead as the conditions worsened on one of the highest points in North Cork.
The packed stand got behind both sides to drown out the weather as Ballygiblin seemed to retreat closer to their own goal. A tactic, even if it wasn't intentional, that allowed Caherline bring the game back to just a point on 62 minutes.
However some savage defending from O’Sullivan, named at centre-back but finished nearer full-back, and a late point from Walsh ended this one as a contest.
Ballygiblin will now get to enjoy their achievements of the year and a well-earned short break at Christmas before they go again.
Next time they hurl it'll be in a Munster final where they will face up to neighbours, Skeheenarinky, most likely in Mallow on the second weekend in January.
D Flynn 0-6 (0-5 f, 0-1 65); D Sheehan 1-0; M Walsh, D Barry, C English 0-1 each.
A Brennan 0-4 f; J English, A Power 0-2 each; J Carroll (f), P Wixted 0-1 each.
C Nolan; B O’Gorman, F Herlihy, M Lewis; R Donegan, J Mullins, B Coffey; J O’Sullivan, D Flynn; M Walsh; C English, D Sheehan; K Duggan, S O’Sullivan, D Barry.
C O’Brien for J Mullins (inj, 58), A Donegan for D Sheehan (62).
M Moloney; W O’Keeffe, P O’Keeffe, D Power; S Whelan, D Murnane, D Balfry; J Carroll, P Wixted; James Kennedy, A Brennan, James Enright; Jack Kennedy, A Power, K Wixted.
J Carroll for Jack Kennedy (42), N Tierney for James Kennedy (50), Jack Enright for K Wixted (53), S Wixted for James Enright (60).
N O’Toole (Waterford)