Shanballymore 1-14 Ballinhassig 1-7.
Last Sunday we got the chance to add more silverware to our already impressive collection for 2015 when we made the trip to Mallow to play Ballinhassig in the final of the county league. This competition gave us an opportunity to play different teams from around the county.
After the final round of games played in the group it was Shanballymore and Ballinhassig who stood top of the table and had the chance for final glory on the first Sunday of November. We played Ballinhassig back in June in the league stages and on the night they had some very good hurlers and were a very physical team and last Sunday in Mallow was no different with a tough physical battle all through.
Before the game a minutes silence was held in memory of our great club man and friend Ownie Whelan who sadly passed away two weeks ago. We started the game on the back foot and Ballinhassig pointed from a free inside the first minute when their dangerous full forward was fouled going through. They followed this up with a quick point from play when they opened up our backline for a good point, at this stage they had their forward line moving all over the field and this opened up plenty space for the full forward who was having a good battle with Eoin McHugh.
We slowly got to grips with the pace of the game and our forwards made inroads into the lead with our first score coming from a foul on Jerome Fitzgerald which was pointed by the reliable Jamie Sheedy who seems to have pin point accuracy from frees this year. Brian Sheedy had our next point from play after some good work from Paul Burke to set him up and this put us on level terms after the fast start from Ballinhassig, we then had the chance of a goal when a great move that involved some quick passing ended up with Colman O’Reilly finding Brian Sheedy in front of goal and he blasted over from close range.
This was a let of for Ballinhassig who were now finding it hard to break down our defence where Eoin McHugh, Richard Burke and Alan Sheedy in the inside line were outstanding clearing any ball that came their way, outside them our halfback line of Sean Lynch, Eoin O’Regan and Padraig Fitzgerald were in a tough battle with a lively Ballinhassig half forward line but the lads were well up for the physical battle.
Our midfielders Haulie and Winston were covering a lot of ground around the middle breaking up attacks and supplying the forward line with scoring opportunities and when Ballinhassig got in for point number three it was Haulie who gained possession from the puck out from the alert Declan Fitzgibbon and set up Brian O’Reilly for our fifth point and open up a two point lead again.
They answered again with a pointed free to close the gap but we were working hard all over the field and got back our lead when Brian Sheedy was on hand to put over a beauty under pressure from 45 yards, we were looking good with five minutes to go to half time but we were hit with a sucker punch when their full forward gained possession on the edge of the square and billowed the net with a powerful shot that gave Declan no chance in goals.
This was a big setback for us after dominating the first half but this team has shown great spirit and fight all year and with half time approaching we had another great chance of a goal when Jerome Fitzgerald gained possession out on the wing and made a great run past two defenders before setting up Brian O’Reilly who saw his shot go just over for the equalising point and this drew a close to the first half proceedings and with the teams level at 0-7 to 1-4
The first few minutes of the second half were again very close with the Ballinhassig backline doing very well closing down all paths to goal for our forwards who were battling for every ball to create something to give us the upper hand in the game, Jamie Sheedy got us going with a very well taken point after good work in defence by Richard Burke and Padraig Fitzgerald, Ballinhassig to their credit stayed with us the whole time and answered with a point from play to draw level again
Our next attack saw the clever and hardworking Paul Burke fouled going through which Jamie Sheedy duly obliged by splitting the posts for our 9th point to see us lead again by the slightest of margins. Ballinhassig responded quickly with a long range effort and it was clear that we needed a big last quarter to come away victories in this game, we had a few missed opportunities in the next few minutes with the Ballinhassig backs getting in some last minute blocks on our forwards. Captain Brian O’Reilly finally got through when set up by his brother Colman, Ballinhassig fought back again when they got a soft free from an attack and it set up a great last ten minutes to this game, we then seemed to hit a real purple patch and when Darren Roche hit over a beautiful long range point this gave us a great lift and got the large Shanballymore crowd on their feet for the last few minutes of this close encounter.
We then rocked Ballinhassig with two quick fire points from the O’Reilly brother’s Brian and Colman and opened up a three point lead in the process but we still had some defending to do but our back line were to close up shop and with Eoin McHugh after getting to grips with their dangerous full forward and Eoin O’Regan in fine form outside him they found scores impossible to come by in the last few minutes. Our next score really put the game to bed when a long range free from Eoin O’Regan seemed to dropping short into the square but the alert Vincent Burke appeared out of nowhere and got a glorious touch on the sliotar and deflected it into the net much to the surprise of the stranded Ballinhassig keeper who was ready to claim the ball and clear his lines.
This gave us a six point lead and it was game over with two minutes remaining on the clock and when Richard Burke cleared from a last Ballinhassig attack the ball fell to Brian O’Reilly who made a great run down field and put over a beauty from a tight angle and this gave us a seven point winning margin when the referee blew the full time whistle from the resulting puck out.
After a hard fought battle we had claimed another impressive win against a very good Ballinhassig team which a lot of people said afterwards was our toughest game all year, after the game our captain Brian O’Reilly accepted the cup on behalf of the team, mentors and supporters from the county board development officer Micheal Byrne in front of another very large Shanballymore following. Brian thanked the referee and his colleagues for the handling of the free flowing game and he also commended Mallow on the playing pitch which was top quality for this time of year, he thanked Ballinhassig for a good tough entertaining game. Brian again praised the hard work of our management team of Jim O’Sullivan, Conor Hannon, Pat Walsh and Tom Palmer who put in a hugh effort all year, he praised all the players on the panel who turn up every week for training and matches and said it was great to see 30 players togged out for the final and he finally thanked our supporters who turned out in there droves to support the team.
Team: Declan Fitzgibbon, Richard Burke, Eoin McHugh, Alan Sheedy, Eoin O’Regan, Sean Lynch, Padraig Fitzgerald, Haulie Burke, Winston Barry, Jamie Sheedy(0-4), Jerome Fitzgerald, Brian O’Reilly(0-5), Paul Burke, Brian Sheedy(0-3), Colman O’Reilly(0-1). subs: Darren Roche(0-1), for Kenneth Barry, Vincent Burke(1-0), for Paul Burke, Micheal O’Donovan for Brian Sheedy, Brendan Hayes, Jonathan Dennehy, James Hayes, Robert McHugh, Dave Twomey, Niall Barry, Richard Hallihan, Stephen Donegan, Eamon Fitzgerald, Brian O’Regan, Shaun Cronin, Jonathan Linehan, Jimmy Burke.