Ballygunner 2-26; De La Salle 0-21
Beat that. Ballygunner’s 10-in-a-row of senior hurling crowns is one of the great feats of modern GAA history.
On Sunday they completed the remarkable achievement when they had 11-points to spare at new Walsh Park against a game but out-gunner Waterford city outfit in front of a big and enthusiastic crowd.
The series of victories means that the Gunners now stand alone, having eclipsed Erin's Own (1927-1935) and Mount Sion (1953-1961) and their heroics deeds of 9-in-a-row.
De La Salle were up for the challenge and while they didn’t vary their game enough to head the holders in the first half, they fought for every ball as if their lives depended on the outcome. Yet they were undone by two flashes of genius, one from the best hurler afield Peter Hogan and the other from the ever-green Pauric Mahony.
In a first half four minute spell, first Hogan and then Mahony with a beautiful flick and body swerve which put half the losers defense on the wrong foot, got through for goals which effectively sealed the game as a contest.
Add to that the constant threat of Dessie Hutchinson and you could see only one winner from then on… as proved to be the case.
With the score 2-12 to 0-10 at the break, the winners got time before the final whistle for the magnitude of their achievements to sink in.
Still there was much to admire with Kevin Mahony lofting over three great scores from play in a lively cameo while Mahony was in for his second only to be denied by a breathtaking save from Shaun O’Brien.
The same Pauric Mahony has a personal tally to 1-8 by game’s end, and his brother Mikey brought the family tally to a collective 1-14 with his five white flags and Mikey’s two scores - a great family occasion for sure.
The Gunners now head out into Munster to defend their provincial crown, and will be focusing long-term on making up for their loss to Kilkenny’s Ballyhale Shamrocks in the All-Ireland final, having beaten them in dramatic fashion the previous year.
Dingle defy odds
to claim crown
Dingle 1-9; Kenmare Shamrocks 0-11
Fourteen-man Dingle can thank Dylan Geaney for securing the Kerry title for the first time in eight years as initially it was his goal which gave them a pep in their step and ultimately it was his converted ‘mark’ which saw the Michael O'Connor Cup head south following this rough, tough and uncompromising hour’s fare at Austin Stack Park on Sunday.
The goal came 12 minute before half-time and it meant the Dingle side brought a narrow lead into the break but Kenmare and themselves went nip-and-tuck on the changeover so that they were level on two occasions before Geaney’s late mark stuck a dagger into the heart of the Shamrocks.
They had responded bravely to the goal with Sean O’Shea hitting the crossbar in search of a goal but then they hit a purple patch with four unanswered points with a brace each from O’Shea and Stephen O’Brien. Another county man Paul Geaney had proven his worth for the winner with three points in front of the watching Kerry Manager Jack O’Connor.
O’Shea turned on the style in the second half and his frees had the Shamrocks ahead for the first time by two points. Then with 10 minutes to go, it looked like it might all unravel for Dingle when Liam Ó Conchúir saw red, but it is testament to the mental fortitude of the winners that they stood up and got the last three scores to edge home by the narrowest of margins.
Sean O’Shea had the game of his life on the club scene by scoring no less than 0-9 of his side tally of 0-11, six from play… and still his lot was defeat on this big day in the Kerry calendar.