JAHC review: Ballygiblin earned their stripes in tough battles

Avondhu side collected the silverware in Cork and now have a Munster final to look forward to in January
JAHC review: Ballygiblin earned their stripes in tough battles

Ballygiblin celebrate with the cup after after their win over Dromtarriffe in the Co-op SuperStores Cork JAHC final in Páirc Uí Rinn. Picture: Larry Cummins

EVERY championship win looks inevitable in hindsight, but we often forget that, to reach the pinnacle, a team will have to answer hard questions. In the 2021 junior A hurling championship, Ballygiblin certainly proved that.

Doneraile was the venue on September 12 as they got their North Cork campaign underway against Killavullen and they began with a 2-14 to 1-13 win. A week later, they drew, 0-16 to 2-10, with Fermoy in Kilworth before a 3-21 to 0-9 triumph over Araglen in Kildorrery confirmed their progression to the knockout stages.

Kilshannig provided the opposition in Glanworth in the quarter-finals on October 23. It was to prove a stern test, but Ballygiblin would be all the better for coming through it, 0-15 to 0-12 after extra time. It set up a semi-final clash with Charleville in Mourneabbey on Wednesday, November 3.

Once again, it was a close encounter and neither side held a lead of more than two points at any stage. While Seán O’Sullivan netted in the first half, it was level at 1-6 to 0-9 at half-time and Charleville were 0-14 to 1-9 ahead in the third quarter. However, Ballygiblin drew level and finished well with Flynn (two) and Colin English pointing to secure a place in the final on a 1-14 to 0-15 scoreline.

Just four days later, they met Clyda Rovers in the final in Buttevant. Flynn and Dean Barry were among the scores as Ballygiblin edged the first half 0-6 to 0-4 and they got a huge boost eight minutes into the second half as Seán O’Sullivan’s goal opened up a five-point lead. Mark Keane, whose presence had been huge since returning from Australia, was key in ensuring that Clyda didn’t come any closer than two point and a second O’Sullivan goal with five minutes left provided a cushion, the final score 2-12 to 0-10.

It was a third Avondhu title for the club, a second in four years, but there was little time for celebration as, having got the county quarter-final bye, they were straight into semi-final action the following weekend. Passage were the opposition in Glenville.

While the opening stages were even, Passage had an early red card and Ballygiblin looked to have taken control as Michael Walsh helped them to move 0-9 to 0-6 clear but Niall McCarthy’s goal tied matters again. Flynn’s free ensured that Ballygiblin were a point in front at half-time, but the second half was to-and-fro again, with Cian McCarthy ensuring Passage stayed in contention.

Finally, Ballygiblin looked to have made a burst as points from Flynn and Seán O’Sullivan opened up a two-point lead and then O’Sullivan set up Aidan Donegan for a goal to make it 1-15 to 1-10 as the clock reached the 60-minute mark. However, there were eight minutes of injury time to be played and McCarthy gave Passage a boost with a goaled free as they drew back to within a point but Ballygiblin’s worries were eased as Joseph O’Sullivan’s long-range point left them ahead by 1-16 to 2-11 at the end.

A first county final was in store for the club and it was the same situation for their opponents, Dromtarriffe. Whether it was final jitters in Páirc Uí Rinn on November 27 or not – perhaps it might have been the fact they had to wear the green of Mitchelstown CBS due to a colour-clash – Ballygiblin didn’t settle early and Conor O’Callaghan impressed as Dromtarriffe had the game’s first three points.

Two Flynn frees and a Dean Barry point had them just 0-4 to 0-3 behind but Seán Howard (two) and Brandon Murphy replied for Dromtarriffe as they went into the water break four ahead. Ballygiblin were better in the second quarter, though, and Flynn was deadly accurate as they tied at 0-9 each by half-time.

Sean Howard, Jerry O’Sullivan, and substitute Evan Murphy pointed as Dromtarriffe started the second half as they had the first, with three straight points, and they looked set for victory as they held a 0-15 to 0-10 advantage at the water break. The move of Mark Keane to attack proved to be an inspiration for Ballygiblin, however, and when Dillon Sheehan’s shot was saved by Dermot Cremin, Seán O’Sullivan got to the loose ball first and pulled the rebound to the net.

Four successive points had them in front for the first time in the 51st minute, 1-14 to 0-16, and O’Sullivan set up Keane for a second goal to strengthen their grip on proceedings. With the momentum firmly in their favour now, they finished the game well to win by 2-18 to 0-18, Flynn having scored ten of their points.

And the journey hasn't stopped yet - while they have intermediate to look forward to, last week's Munster Club IHC win over Caherline means that early 2022 will see them in a provincial final.

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