Minor B Final- Ballina’s title in pulsating minor B final at Semple Stadium

Ballina 3-12

Ballina 3-12

Emly Treacy’s 3-10

A terrific trio of first half goals edged Ballina into a lead they failed to relinquish capturing the County Minor B Hurling Championship Final over a plucky and resilient Sean Treacys/ Emly on Sunday afternoon last in Semple Stadium.

As early as the fifth minute Conor Maguire picked up possession in the middle of the field from a Dan Finnerty pass and powered forward soloing through the heart of the Treacys/ Emly defence. As his run developed all defenders attention focused on the athletic Maguire and when the coverage converged he popped a clever hand pass laterally to the unattended James Murtagh who was loitering just outside the 21 yard line and he finished brilliantly to the net.

Then with six minutes remaining on the clock before half time Ballina made a decisive surge forward netting twice in the space of three minutes and creating an advantage they would not give up. Murtagh doubled both his personal and team’s goal tally putting the finishing touches on a well worked move. Ben King got inside his marker on the left wing and with one defender out of play he ran until the next challenge arrived. As it did he cleverly hand passed to Dan Finnerty who exercised the same principal to find Murtagh who was now free 14 yards from goal and once more a swipe of his right found the back of the net. Moments later the advantage became greater when Bill Floyd’s attempted point fell just short and attacker Ben King poked the ball to the net.

The early Ballina goal was cancelled out with a thunderous response from the West Tipperary men as Sean Ryan made a tremendous run collecting on the 50 yard line and lashing to the back of the net off his left hand side while travelling at full pace. Two points from play by centre forward Daragh Kennedy surrounded this wonderful goal giving Treacys/ Emly a foothold in the contest.

The first half was fractured however with both sides showing nerves, shooting poor wides and not using possession to great effect at different stages before Ballina made their decisive move just prior to the interval as the goals from Murtagh and King we accompanied by a free from Conor Maguire. This seven point swing put the north side in a commanding lead at the break on a score of 3-3 to 1-4.

The second half produced a far higher standard as both teams settled with early frees from Conor Maguire and Brian Carey cancelling each other out. Moments later Sean Ryan stroked over the point of the match with a delightful effort off his left hand side 60 yards out close to the touchline, losing his marker with a beautiful side step. Brian Carey then sparked real optimism into the combination side’s cause with a goal as he latched onto a breaking ball delivered from the middle of the field and finished off his left.

Points from Ben King and two from Conor Maguire one of which was a free steadied the ship once more for Ballina but the never say die attitude of the combination outfit again reared its head with ten minutes remaining. Sean Ryan carried the fight to Ballina with a surging run from the middle of the field and after flicking the ball over two defenders heads he ushered possession to team mate Patrick Carey who whipped to the back of the net from a tight angle.

This narrowed the gap to a single point but substitute Thomas McGrath made a massive impact in providing two crucial scores to the Ballina cause down the stretch and despite a late flurry of attacks seeking the winning goal the north side held on for victory.

Ballina: A. Power; D. Kelly, E. Healy, P. O Donovan; J. Collins, A. Hanley (Joint Capt.), R. Bourke; C. Maguire (0-6, 4F, 1-65), B. King (1-1); B. Connolly, D. Finnerty (Joint Capt.), J. Murtagh (2-2); B. Floyd, T. O Halloran (0-1), P. O Hagan. Subs: P. O Leary for B. King (43), T. McGrath (0-2) for B. Floyd (46), J. Slevin for T. O Halloran (59). Sean Treacys/ Emly: S. Stapleton; J. Condon, W. Mackey, D. Fahey; T. Lyons, A. O Brien, M. Feehan; S. Ryan (1-1), P. Deegan (0-1); G. Egan (0-1), D. Kennedy (0-2), S. Burke; T. Ryan, B. Carey (1-3, 0-3F), P. Ryan. Subs: E. Ryan for T. Lyons (26), P. Carey (1-2, 0-1F) for P. Ryan (36), B. O Meara for T. Ryan (47).

Referee: John Butler