Three reasons Ballygiblin landed the big prize at Croke Park

Denis Hurley breaks down the North Cork hurlers' terrific win in the All-Ireland final
Three reasons Ballygiblin landed the big prize at Croke Park

Cathail O'Mahony of Ballygiblin celebrates with teammate Darragh Flynn, 10, who scored their side's goal at Croke Park. Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

EARLY GOAL

As Joseph O’Sullivan said: “Fair play to Mark [Keane], he drove down the middle and cut them open. And who was off his shoulder but Darragh Flynn. Who else would you want at the start of the game, your two best players?”

That combination served to have Ballygiblin leading by a goal inside ten seconds and the only time their advantage would be less than that was after Andrew Kilcullen hit Easkey’s opening point.

The cushion was a valuable one in terms of dictating the game.

DEFENSIVE MEANNESS

The goal also meant that, unless Ballygiblin conceded one, Easkey would have to out-point the North Cork by at least four points – and the chances of a green flag being allowed were slim.

The last man to score a goal against Ballygiblin was Tracton’s Michael O’Sullivan in the opening stages of the Co-op SuperStores Cork Premier JHC final in October – since then Grangemockler-Ballyneale, Colligan, St Kieran’s, Horeswood and now Easkey have failed to breach the cover.

As good as the attacking prowess is, it is built on a solid defensive structure.

EXPERIENCE OF LAST YEAR

Ballygiblin wouldn’t have been human if there wasn’t a creeping thought at the back of their minds about how awful it would be to lose consecutive finals.

Doubt is a naturally occurring phenomenon but the important thing is not to be paralysed by it. Ballygiblin didn’t have any ‘Croke Park factor’ to worry about whereas that was something for Easkey to adapt to and the super start to the game showed that there were no nerves about the big stage.

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