Ballygiblin hurlers make it back to back counties with impressive display at Páirc Uí Chaoimh

Big game experience accrued across the last 18 months made the difference against Tracton
Ballygiblin hurlers make it back to back counties with impressive display at Páirc Uí Chaoimh

Fionn Herlihy, Ballygiblin captain, lifts the Premier Junior Cup at Páirc Uí Chaoimh after beating Tracton. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

Ballygiblin 2-19 Tracton 1-12

BALLYGIBLIN were crowned Co-Op Superstores Premier Junior County hurling champions after a hard-fought but deserved win over Tracton at Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Saturday evening.

The winners were made battle all the way by a valiant Tracton, but two key moments, along with the experience of the likes of Mark Keane, Darragh Flynn and Joseph O’Sullivan were the telling factors in the end.

The first key moment came after 25 minutes when Michael O’Sullivan received a straight red card, after an incident involving Keane and the second was in the 50th minute when Sean O’Sullivan got Ballygiblin’s first goal to put eight between the sides and with the extra man there was no way back for Tracton.

 Ballygiblin celebrate at the full-time whistle. Picture: Jim Coughlan.
Ballygiblin celebrate at the full-time whistle. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

Tracton got off to the perfect start when John Good played the ball to Paul O’Riordan and his pass across the front of the goal was caught by Michael O’Sullivan who blasted to the back of the net with just 25 seconds on the clock.

There was a stoppage for a few minutes when O’Sullivan picked up a knock after scoring the goal but when it resumed Ballygiblin raised their first white flag with Shane Beston splitting the posts.

Mark Byrne responded at the other end for Tracton and Joseph O’Sullivan was also on target for their opponents, to make it 0-2 to 1-1 with nine minutes gone.

Darragh Flynn raised another white flag for Ballygiblin as they had now settled after the shock of conceding the early goal to put only a point between the sides. With 14 minutes played they were all square when Joseph O’Sullivan pointed from distance and a free from the same player put them in front for the first time a minute later.

But the lead didn’t last long as with their next attack Tracton were back on level terms when Ronan Walsh scored from a free.

O’Sullivan replied from a placed to put Ballygiblin in front again before Cathail O’Mahony struck from play to increase their lead, 0-7 to 1-2 with 20 minutes gone.

With Cork star Mark Keane now dominating at the back Ballygiblin were starting to control the game and he was involved in a key moment after 25 minutes.

He was fouled but before the free was taken he was involved in an exchange with Michael O’Sullivan, for which the latter received a straight red card. The referee consulted with his linesman before sending him off, indicating a pull on the helmet of Keane as the reason.

A blow to Tracton but to their credit, they settled again, with Walsh putting them back on level terms, before a magnificent point from distance by Joseph O’Sullivan restored Ballygiblin’s lead, 0-8 to 1-4.

A point in injury-time from Byrne had the sides level for the fourth time but late points from Flynn and Joseph O’Sullivan, the latter from a free, ensured Ballygiblin headed for the dressing-room two to the good, 0-10 to 1-5 at half-time.

A Walsh free had one between the sides at the start of the second half before O’Mahony restored Ballygiblin’s two-point advantage.

Another placed ball from Walsh had it down to one again after 35 minutes before O’Mahony got his second of this half to make it 0-12 to 1-7.

Cathail O'Mahony, Ballygiblin, takes on John Good, Tracton. Picture: Jim Coughlan.
Cathail O'Mahony, Ballygiblin, takes on John Good, Tracton. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

Ballygiblin were starting to make the extra man tell and they opened up a three-point lead when Joseph O’Sullivan scored from distance, but again credit to Tracton they weren’t going away easily. Walsh got his third of the second half, all placed balls to reduce the deficit before O’Sullivan replied from his own half to make it 0-14 to 1-8 with 41 minutes played.

O’Mahony made it a hat-trick of second-half points to stretch their lead to four before David Byrne made it a three-point game again.

O’Sullivan got his third of the second-half to keep Ballygiblin in control and their lead was stretched to five when Flynn scored from a tight angle, to make it 0-17 to 1-9 after 47 minutes.

Any chance of a Tracton comeback were crushed with 10 minutes to go when Sean O’Sullivan picked up the ball and he ran at the Ballygiblin defence. His pass was intercepted but in the scramble that ensued, he pulled on the ball to raise a green flag, to make it 1-17 to 1-9 and after that it was always going to be difficult for Tracton to recover.

Flynn added a second goal as Tracton had now visibly tired as Ballygiblin win back-to-back county titles.  They will now go on to play the Tipperary representatives, Grangemockler/Ballyneale, in the Munster championship on November 5 in Tipperary.

Scorers for Ballygiblin: J O’Sullivan 0-10 (0-5 f), D Flynn 1-3, C O'Mahony 0-4, S O’Sullivan 1-0, S Beston 0-2.

Tracton: R Walsh 0-5 f, M Byrne 0-4 (0-2 f), M O'Sullivan 1-0, D Byrne 0-2 f, C McGuinness 0-1.

BALLYGIBLIN: C Noonan; L Finn, F Herlihy, J Mullins; B Coffee, M Keane, M Lewis; R Donegan, K Roche; D Flynn J O’Sullivan, S Beston; C O’Mahony, S O’Sullivan, D Barry.

Subs: D Sheehan for D Barry (40), K Duggan for S Beston, C O’Brien for L Finn (both 58), P Malloy for J O’Sullivan (60).

TRACTON: K Lyons; D Good, T McGuinness, R Sinclair; K Webb, G Walsh, C McGuinness; J Good, D O’Flaherty; D Byrne, M O’Sullivan, M Byrne; D Harrington, P O’Riordan, R Walsh.

Subs: C Quinn for P O’Riordan (40), D Kidney for M Byrne (45), J Kingston for R Walsh (48), M Byrne for D O’Flaherty (55), S O’Sullivan for C Quinn (58), E Kingston for D Harrington (60).

Referee: William Wallace (Aghada).

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