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AIB All-Ireland Club Junior Hurling Championship Semi-Final – Ballysaggart (Waterford) 4-13 Calry St. Josephs (Sligo) 0-8

Ballysaggart (Waterford) defeated Calry St. Josephs (Sligo) by 4-13 to 0-8 in the AIB All-Ireland Club Junior Hurling Championship Semi-Final on Sunday January 26th at O’Connor Park Tullamore.

Ballysaggart’s Bennett brothers lead charge to final

By Tomás McCarthy for the Irish Examiner newspaper

Ballysaggart (Waterford) 4-13 Calry/St Joseph’s (Sligo) 0-08

The small rural club of Ballysaggart, with an estimated population of 250, are plotting a route to Croke Park on February 8 after a first-half scoring storm overawed Calry/St Joseph’s at O’Connor Park yesterday. Bennett brothers, Stephen, Shane and Kieran, dazzled right from the start and tallied 3-10 between them while the defence, led by veteran stopper Matty Meagher, who made an important first-minute stop, only shipped three points from play.

Mass in the West Waterford parish was brought back to 8am yesterday and the vocal blue and navy band roared their team 17 points into the distance by the break. “Fr Cullinane, he couldn’t make it but he has been unbelievable for us,” said manager Adrian Meagher. “We had a good mass this morning, he mentioned the match an awful lot during the mass and it was brilliant!”

In freezing conditions, Saggart settled on a strategy. Backed by all of the elements, they picked Shane and Stephen Bennett to work as a twin strike force in the full-forward line and they tore the Connacht champions asunder. “We talked about that before we came out,” Meagher explained. “We said that if we win the toss we were going to play with the wind and put the two lads inside and just get good ball into them.”

Stephen Bennett started with three-in-a-row. Keith Raymond and Bennett then exchanged frees. On 13 minutes, Shane Bennett slipped in behind the cover and, after a couple of attempts, found the net. Stephen Bennett added two more frees to open an eight-point gap. Calry weren’t out of the woods, however, as from the a 65, Stephen Bennett drove in the sliotar and Shane got the merest flick to send it flying past Chris Madden. A late avalanche of attacks yielded a further 1-3. Kenneth Cashell posted back to back points and Kieran Bennett was successful from 70m. In the third minute of injury time, Stephen shortened the grip and batted the contest killing third goal. Six minutes into the second half, Ronan Walsh was lurking on the periphery of the square to divert Stephen Bennett’s ball goalwards and the game was over.

Scorers for Ballysaggart: Stephen Bennett 1-8 (5f, 1 65), Shane Bennett 2-0, R Walsh 1-0, K Cashell, K Bennett 0-2 each, M Kearney 0-1.

Scorers for Calry/St Joseph’s: K Raymond 0-5 (4fs, 1 65), E McCarthy, C Griffin, L Reidy 0-1 each).

BALLYSAGGART: M Meagher; B Ryan, K Fennessy, D Devine; B Murphy, E O’Brien, C O’Gorman; C Murphy, K Bennett; K Cashell, D Meagher, R Walsh; Shane Bennett, Stephen Bennett, T Bennett.

Subs: M Kearney for Walsh (49), S Hale for T Bennett (59), F Meagher for Fennessy (60), P Hale for Cashell (61).

CALRY/ST JOSEPH’S: C Madden; F Coyne, J Kenny, N McDermott; N Treacy, L Reidy, F Keown; R Cox, K Raymond; C Griffin, D Collery, E McCarthy, K Gilmartin, D Burke, D Cox.

Subs: D Reidy for Madden (31), D Keown for D Cox (49), E Kelly for Collery (50).

Referee: P O’Dwyer (Carlow)