The sensational news of last weekend was the defeat of the defending senior hurling champions Ballygunner who dramatically surrendered their title when going under by two points to arch rivals Mount Sion in a Walsh Park quarter final that began tentatively but exploded into life in a gripping second half.
Title laden ‘Sion have joined championship favourites De La Salle, Fourmilewater, and Dungarvan in the last four, and while few indeed expected ‘Sion to survive to this stage in the title race it is the presence of Dungarvan among that celebrated semi-final quartet that has just about everybody talking right now.
It’s sixty one long years since the Old Boro club last made it to this stage of hurling’s premier championship, and even if their performance in defeating Tallow by six points last weekend wasn’t the best we’ve seen from their very youthful side there is now the clearest of evidence that this is a team very definitely motoring in the right direction.
Clearly they are now the rank outsiders of the four that are still in title contention, and no doubt Fourmile’ will be more than happy to have been paired with them in that semi-final line up. To completely discount their chances however would be to summarily dismiss their magnificent march into the penultimate round, defying a veritable mountain of odds in the process. It’s a snare into which Fourmilewater are most unlikely to slide.
THE QUARTER FINALS
A brief look back on those quarter final results now, and of course the most unexpected was Mount Sion’s 0-16 to 2-8 victory over a shell shocked Ballygunner. Close enough to a sensation to some extent, but it again strengthens the belief that you will always and ever write Mount Sion’s championship chances off at your peril.
Barry Mullane’s 5th minute goal gave the Gunners a dream start, but thanks in the main to the accurate freetaking of Martin O’Neill ’Sion ended the half on level terms, 1-3 to 0-6. Nothing to sexpartite sides throughout the third quarter either before ’Sipn firmly took this game by the scruff of the neck and five unanswered points sent them on their victory way.
Two of them came from outstanding substitute Anthony Kirwan, but it was back to the minimum, in the 58th minute when David O’Sullivan scored the Gunners second goal. The final say, how fittingly, rested with the great Ken McGrath as he rifled over the final point of the game—a reminder of many of the great days of his hurling prime. The champions were dethroned, and in truth no one but no one could question the justice of the result.
THE DUNGARVAN GAMES
No shock results from Dungarvan on Saturday with Dungarvan, without ever really impressing, being good value for their 1-16 to 1-10 victory against Tallow, but it took a point deep into added time by midfielder Eddie Barrett to give De La Salle their 0-24 to 4-11 victory over luckless Lismore.
Even without the suspended Maurice Shanahan among several other absentees, Lismore certainly gave this one their best shot, and small blame if they are still asking themselves how it would gone had their gangling scorer-in-chief been in the side. On the other hand it may also have been the wake up call needed by ‘Salle who had been seen in so many quarters as the heirs apparent to Ballygunner’s title.
Meantime Dungarvan can thank most especially the sheer brilliance of former county panellist Gavin Crotty for their eventual six point victory over a Tallow side that had to start the game without their inter county defender Aidan Kearney and also lost the services of Paul O’Brien for the entire second half.
Good value in the end for their win, but the Blues will know that so much more will be required of them if they are to put it up in any meaningful way to semi-final opponents Fourmilewater.
After just one season in hurling’s top flight it’s a return to the intermediate grade for Dunhill next season after losing their relegation shoot out against Ballyduff Upper(1-21 to 0-18) at Leamybrien last Saturday afternoon.
Although they had their goal from Jamie Kearney as early as the second minute this one was far from plain sailing for Ballyduff who were just about deserving of their 1-10 to 0-10 half time lead.
Dunhill had chances aplenty in both halves but failed to take them, although the outcome was still in the melting pot until injury time points by Kevin Casey and Brendan Hannon esed the Westerners across the finishing line.
It’s hard on Dunhill not to have extended their stay in senior for at least a while longer, but enough was seen of them in this one to suggest, and strongly too, that they will be there or thereabouts yet again when those intermediate honours are being dished out in 2013.