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AIB All-Ireland Club Junior Hurling Championship Final – Ballysaggart (Waterford) 5-12 Creggan Kickhams (Antrim) 2-21

Ballysaggart (Waterford) and Creggan Kickhams (Antrim) finished level after extra time in the AIB All-Ireland Club Junior Hurling Championship Final on Saturday February 8th at Croke Park – final scoreline – Ballysaggart (Waterford) 5-12 Creggan Kickhams (Antrim) 2-21

Ballysaggart and Creggan inseparable in Junior final

Report from the web site 

AIB GAA Hurling All-Ireland Junior Club Final: Ballysaggart 5-12 Kickhams Creggan 2-21 (AET)

Ballysaggart and Creggan will have to replay the All-Ireland Club Hurling Junior final after even extra-time couldn’t separate them in an enthralling game at Croke Park on Saturday. After trailing by nine points at half-time, Antrim and Ulster champions Creggan came back to draw level and they pushed ahead in the additional 20 minutes, only for a late goal to rescue Waterford’s Ballysaggart. Creggan’s Oran and Conor McCann hit 1-14 between them, but this were outdone by Ballysaggart’s Stephen and Shane Bennett, who managed 5-7 in total.

The teams shared six points evenly in a frantic opening five minutes, with Stephen Bennett, Ronan Walsh and Daniel Devine on target for Ballysaggart and Conor McCann (two) and Oran McCann replying for Creggan. Ballysaggart struck the first crucial blow when a Stephen Bennett free squeezed into the net in the ninth minute and although Kevin Rice and Conor McCann hit back with points, Ballysaggart soon had a second major through Shane Bennett.

Creggan’s only point of the second quarter came from Rice as their finishing let them down, while Stephen Bennett was clinical at the other end, as he added three more points before having another free deflected into the net to make it 3-6 to 0-6 to Ballysaggart at half-time.

Stephen Bennett got the first score of the second half, but Creggan were now growing into the game and Conor McCann and Rice both had shots saved before Conor Small netted to kick-start their challenge. Oran McCann and Stephen Bennett swapped points from long-range frees, before Oran and Conor McCann cut the gap further with fine scores from play.

Like Creggan in the first half, Ballysaggart were now struggling for scores, with a Stephen Bennett free providing only a brief respite. A foul on Small allowed Conor McCann to rifle a penalty home ten minutes from time and although a Ronan Walsh point left two between them, Matthew Nelson responded and the electric Conor McCann powered over a free from the half-way line with the last puck, making the score Ballysaggart 3-10 Creggan 2-16 at the end of the 60 minutes.

An Oran McCann brace got Creggan up and running in extra-time, but a speculative Shane Bennett effort went all the way to the net to edge Ballysaggart ahead again. Oran and Conor McCann struck before the change of ends, however, to make it 2-17 to 4-10 in favour of Creggan.

Points by Ryan (two), James Carey and Ruairí McCann pushed Creggan further clear after the restart, but Kieran Bennett and Kenneth Cashell kept Ballysaggart within striking distance, and there was time for one last twist, as a Stephen Bennett flick from an high ball completed his hat-trick and more importantly, sent this tie to a replay.

Scorers for Ballysaggart: Stephen Bennett 2-7 (2-5f), Shane Bennett 3-0, R Walsh 0-2, D Devine 0-1, K Bennett 0-1, K Cashell 0-1.

Scorers for Creggan: C McCann 1-6 (1-0 pen, 0-1f), O McCann 0-8 (4f, 1 ’65), K Rice 0-4, C Small 1-0, J Carey 0-1, R McCann 0-1, M Nelson 0-1.

Ballysaggart: M Meagher; B Ryan, K Fennessy, C O’Gorman; B Murphy, E O’Brien, D Devine; C Murphy, K Bennett; Shane Bennett, D Meagher, K Cashell; R Walsh, Stephen Bennett, T Bennett. Subs: M Kearney for Fennessy (34)

Temporary sub: M Kearney for C Murphy (26-27). Subs in extra-time: S Hale for Kearney (5), S Meagher for T Bennett (H-T), C Fitzgerald for Devine (14).

Creggan: B Penter; B Maguire, A Maguire, T McCann; D McCann, M Johnston, D Carey; R McCann, A McKeown; K Rice, O McCann, C McCann; S Maguire, J Dougan, C Small. Subs: J Carey for Dougan (27), M Nelson for D McCann (37).

Referee: Christy Brown (Galway)

Corn Ui Mhuiri Quarter Final Replay – PC Dhuibhne 1-13 Colaiste Chriost Ri 2-7

Pobalscoil Chorca Dhuibhne defeated Colaiste Chriost Rí by 1-13 to 2-7 in the Corn Ui Mhuiri Quarter Final Replay on Saturday February 8th at Ballyvourney.

Click here to view photos from the game


AIB All-Ireland Club Senior Hurling Championship Semi-Final – Portumna (Galway) 1-15 Na Piarsaigh (Limerick) 1-11

Portumna (Galway) defeated Na Piarsaigh (Limerick) by 1-15 to 1-11 in the AIB All-Ireland Club Senior Hurling Championship Semi-Final on Saturday February 8th at Semple Stadium Thurles.

Polished Portumna leave Na Piarsaigh reeling

Portumna (Galway) 1-15 Na Piarsaigh (Limerick) 1-11

By Diarmuid O’Flynn for the Irish Examiner newspaper

“We’re shattered,” was the reaction of Na Piarsaigh manager Sean Stack at the end of Saturday’s All-Ireland Club SHC semi-final at sodden Semple Stadium — his side’s second semi-final defeat in three years. “It will take a while to get over that one. But I said before the match, in conditions like this you’re not blaming anyone. They were better than us.”

And that was it in a nutshell. Fielding a young side, their age profile reduced considerably when starlet Ronan Lynch (barely 17) started in place of Damien Quigley (nearing 43), the Limerick champions went to Thurles with justifiable faith and confidence in their own ability. They left though a much-chastened outfit, schooled in the both the art and science of championship hurling.

The science was demonstrated in the intelligent and structured manner in which Portumna played the ball from defence and midfield, a point within 15 seconds of the start in each half highlighting that aspect of their play. Their lone goal, scored by recent Galway minor Ronan O’Meara in the 4th minute, was another example, full-forward Andrew Smith drawing defenders with a powerful run before a perfectly-timed perfectly placed pass.

That was a crucial score, and left Na Piarsaigh playing catch-up (1-1 to no score behind) from the start, helped Portumna to a 1-6 to 0-9 tie at the break, though playing into a fierce wind. “Portumna are a serious outfit, very composed,” said Stack, “but with the start they got — the toss was everything. You could see against the breeze, we have a good defence, a defence as organised and composed as they have. We were just praying that we’d get the wind in for the first half. When we didn’t, with the start they got, we were chasing the game. They’re so composed and they’ve been around so long. We can’t take it from Portumna – they were super.”

Indeed they are super, this Portumna side, now chasing their fourth All-Ireland title in nine years but on this evening — for the most part — they were mostly businesslike. At times though, and even in those conditions, they were sublime. Young O’Meara made his mark with 1-2 from play in that first half, in the second it was the turn of experience, the Hayes brothers, Damien and Niall, their cousin Kevin, the Smith brothers, Leo and Andy, to show their wares, and all either scored or set up a score.

Most impressive of all though for Portumna in a dominant second half (a five-point unanswered burst from the 44th to the 52nd minute doing most of the damage), and as on so many big occasions before for both club and county, the brilliant Canning brothers, Joe and Ollie.

Joe (25) is now recognised as being one of the outstanding hurlers of his generation, and from frees into (three) and with (four) the wind, from sideline ball and from play (one each), along with several scoring passes, he again shone. Mind you, the same Joe was fortunate to be still on the field for that second half, a moment of madness in the 22nd minute — right in front of referee James McGrath — when he lashed out across Na Piarsaigh wing-forward David Dempsey with the hurley, off the ball. Joe’s heart was surely pounding as James reached for his cards but with David gamely getting to his feet, yellow was the colour. A let-off, and how Portumna profited.

Ah, but Ollie, captain Ollie. So many times in that second half, the game there to be won, it was the 37-year-old veteran (now plying his trade as a creative wing-forward rather than man-marking corner-back) showing Portumna the way. A full-pace pick-up of a ball stuck in the Semple Stadium mud on 44 minutes was a moment that stood out, but there was so much more from a man who always had that something special. He used his guile to good effect, winning frees when there was nothing else on, in a situation where he knew brother Joe would then do the necessary.

Portumna were simply too good. Kevin Downes and Cathal King did their best, and a subdued Shane Dowling did goal for Na Piarsaigh, a 57th minute penalty, but all too late. Schooled, dejected? Yes to both, says Sean Stack, but it will only make them stronger.

“Conditions tonight came down to experience, guile, doing the right thing, slowing it down. Portumna knew how to pull frees. They left their hands open, ran in with their chests to shoulders. A shoulder into the chest is a free, I understand that, but they knew perfectly how to do it but we admire them for that. It’s all part of the game and no discredit to them at all. Hard to charge the batteries again and get back in again next year. But we’re a good team, we have a future, there’s no doubt about that.”

Scorers for Portumna: J Canning (0-9, seven frees, one sideline); R O’Meara (1-2); A Smith, O Canning, D Hayes, K Hayes (0-1 each).

Scorers for Na Piarsaigh: S Dowling (1-4, one pen, four frees); R Lynch (0-3, two sidelines); K Downes (0-2); K Ryan, P Gleeson (0-1 each).

PORTUMNA: J Keane; G Heagney, E McEntee, C O’Hare; P Smith, M Dolphin, E Lynch; J Canning, L Smith; K Hayes, D Hayes, O Canning; N Hayes, A Smith, R O’Meara.

Subs for Portumna: O Treacy for N Hayes (60).

NA PIARSAIGH: P Kennedy; M Casey, C King, K Breen; N Buckley, D Breen, J O’Brien (c); A Dempsey, W O’Donoghue; K Kennedy, K Downes, D Dempsey; K Ryan, S Dowling, R Lynch.

Subs for Na Piarsaigh: P Gleeson for Kennedy (27); D Sheppard for O’Donoghue (37); B Hartnett for Dempsey (53); J Madden for O’Brien (53).

Referee: J McGrath (Westmeath)