By Michael Moynihan, Walsh Park, Waterford
Victory to Waterford’s Ballygunner in this Munster club SHC quarter-final but Midleton of Cork put it up to the favourites in a game that went right to the wire.
The home side started well, with four Pauric Mahony frees in the first 10 minutes to Conor Lehane’s opener for Midleton, who looked unsure at the back.
Mahony made it 0-6 to 0-2 on 12 minutes – all from frees – before Lehane hit a Midleton free.
Conor Power then got Ballygunner’s first from play, maintaining his side’s four-point lead.
Midleton then settled. Cormac Walsh and Luke Dinneen hit points and Billy O’Keeffe replied, before Lehane surprised the Gunner rearguard with a wickedly struck free: 1-5 to 0-8 on 22 minutes.
We waited four minutes for the next score, a fine Walsh point for Midleton, followed by a better point from Patrick White. Tim O’Sullivan and Walsh swapped points.
Tom Wallace in the Midleton goal saved smartly from Billy O’Keeffe and when the Cork men swept downfield Tommy O’Connell placed Cormac Beausang for a great goal.
Mahoney had a late free to make it 2-8 to 0-10 at the half.
Ballygunner restarted with Tim O’Sullivan and sub Peter Hogan points. Lehane (free) and Mahony (65) swapped points before Beausang cut a sideline over the bar: 2-10 to 0-13 on 45 minutes.
The home side were struggling to find a rhythm, with Midleton defending strongly, but a Mahony free cut the lead to two and then the Gunners struck – Conor Power improvised a ground stroke which flew to the net.
Power struck the post a minute later, and then Mahony added a free: 1-15 to 2-10 and nine minutes left.
Lehane (free) and JJ Hutchinson swapped points to leave the Gunners two up with time running out. Mahony (free) and James Nagle sapped points but Mahony, yet again, made it safe with a late free.
Scorers for Ballygunner: Pauric Mahony (0-12, 11 frees, 1 65); C. Power (1-1); T. O’Sullivan (0-2); P. Hogan, B. O’Keeffe, JJ Hutchinson (0-1 each).
Scorers for Midleton: C. Lehane (1-4, 1-3 frees); C. Beausang (1-2, 0-1 sideine); C. Walsh (0-3); L. O’Farrell, P. White, L. Dineen (0-1 each).
BALLYGUNNER: S. O’Keeffe (JC), E. Hayden, B. Coughlan, I. Kenny, Philip Mahony, W. Hutchinson, B. O’Keeffe, H. Barnes, S. O’Sullivan (JC), Pauric Mahony, Barry O’Sullivan, Brian O’Sullivan, T. O’Sullivan, M. Mahony, C. Power.
Subs: P. Hogan for W. Hutchinson (HT); JJ Hutchinson for Barry O’Sullivan (45)
MIDLETON: T. Wallace, S. Smyth, F. O’Mahony, L. Dineen, E. Moloney, S. O’Leary-Hayes, J. Nagle, P. Haughney, S. O’Farrell, C. Walsh, C. Lehane, T. O’Connell, C. Beausang, L. O’Farrell, P. White.
Subs: R. O’Regan for Dineen (56); G. Manley for White (57); A. Ryan for Haughney (59).
*Before the game there was a minute’s silence in memory of the late Pat McCarthy of Ballygunner.