Ballyduff stage a dramatic comeback to break Crotta hearts

garveylogo_web.jpgGarveys SuperValu County Senior Hurling Championship Final
Ballyduff 2-11 Crotta O'Neill's 0-15 
By Murt Murphy for
I was reminded of a French proverb today, when watching a disconsolate Shane Nolan on the stand accepting a much deserved Man of the Match award "A person is unlucky who falls on his back and breaks his nose"!! That is exactly how Shane must have felt, after all his heroism counted for naught as Ballyduff in typical fashion fought back, to win the Garveys SuperValu County Senior Hurling Championship for the 23rd time after epic battle with Crotta O'Neill's on this afternoon.Crotta were devastated at the final whistle as they knew they had left a famous victory slip from their grasp, because leading 0-12 to 0-6 eight minutes into the second period, they shot six wides in as many minutes, with Ballyduff on the ropes. Shane Nolan also looked certain to goal but somehow Liam Boyle got across to save the day for the champions.

It seemed a terrible injustice on Shane Nolan who is line for the Christy Ring Cup Player of the Year, should finish on the losing side have scored an incredible 17_manof_match.jpg0-13 of his side's total!

But that's sport and full marks to this Ballyduff team who never panicked but kept plugging away and then panther like struck for the goals that counted and in the process they might as well have driven daggers through the hearts of the Crotta players and large band of vociferous supporters.
It was nerve jangling stuff as they game headed down the stretch and after Crotta O'Neill's had gone for the Ballyduff jugular in the first and third quarters, the Duffers always had something in reserve that the Kilflynn lads just did not seem to have on the day, and that was experience and composure.
Ballyduff after tinkering with their side all afternoon finally made the match winning move when they posted Gary O'Brien on the edge of the square and that saw them get the scores they required as Crotta wilted late on, in terms of scoring managing only one point in the last ten minutes.

Crotta will look back and rue some missed goal chances particularly after half time, in fact the very first attack after the resumption, Ian McCarthy went racing through on goal from the right hand side and as the space opened up in front of him, he decided to have a go for goal himself, which is a forwards nature but PJ O'Gorman made a brilliant save to turn the ball behind for a '65 which Nolan converted. However David Carney was free to his left and if McCarthy had passed the ball to him, who knows, maybe he might have found the net and that might have killed off Ballyduff.
But that's mere conjecture and also written with the gift of hindsight so no fault to any of the Crotta players but when or if they ever take a look at the DVD, maybe in a few months time, they will see that they could have killed Ballyduff off when they had them on the ropes but they gave the champions a sniff and that is all the lads from Ballyduff required.
Ballyduff usually rely on their attack to win games, but in this final, their defence must take much of the credit.
Men like Liam Boyle, Ally O'Connor, Padraig O'Grady, and Jason Bowler hurled as if their lives depended on it and the decision to start Paud Costello at fullback also worked treat.

Remember that of Crotta's 0-15, by my reckoning only four came from play and not too many of the frees were given away close to goal, even if you consider that they were frees at all!

15_action.jpgThe Ballyduff defence did not concede a goal and if they did, Crotta might well be celebrating instead!
Then when the going got tough the likes of Aidan and Mikey Boyle got stuck, as did Gary O'Brien while Anthony O'Carroll took his goal well though Crotta will have nightmares about it, while the two minors on the team, Pa Joe Connolly and Padraig Boyle scored four points between them and how Sean Twomey kept out Podge Boyle's late goal effort I will never know. The two young lads will also have learned that at senior level it's not about flash and dash, more about getting the basics right.
Overall Ballyduff will be delighted to have won while not at their best as they say it's better to win ugly than lose pretty!!
What can anyone say to Crotta to ease the pain of defeat other than to say that they proved on Sunday that they are a match for the best and if they put their minds to it and stick together, then they will win a county in the next couple of years - the worst thing that could happen is that they fade from the scene and have to wait for another generation, to make the breakthrough.
Players like Philip Twomey, Tom B McElligott, Andrew Keane, Pa Quille, Darren Twomey, the Lynch brothers , Sean Weir, and of course Shane Nolan, played their hearts out and will be around for many years to come. Remember that Crotta's median age I sonly 25 so there is plenty hurling left in them yet!

Crotta O'Neill's dominated the opening half as they used the wind to telling effect with Kerry senior star Shane Nolan being unerring from frees and play, scoring nine points of his side's total of ten.
Ballyduff appeared to be at odds with their game, and it took some excellent defending from their captain Ally O'Connor and Liam Boyle to keep them in touch.
Crotta O'Neill's jumped 0-5 to 0-2 in front by the end of the opening quarter, with Nolan running a succession of markers ragged, as Crotta tried to end a forty three famine.
However, minors Pat Joe Connolly and Padraig Boyle kept Ballyduff in touch with Connolly scoring two points and Boyle one, as Crotta led 0-10 to 0-5 at the interval, but much would depend on whether Crotta O'Neill's could achieve something they had not managed all season, and that was perform in the second half!
Perform they did but unfortunately it was not enough.
Ballyduff started to dominate around midfield were Padraig O'Grady, Ally O'Connor, Liam and Mikey Boyle began to win breaking ball, and after Nolan's early brace, Ballyduff hit back in typical fashion.
Firstly in the 39th minute Gary O'Brien fed Anthony O'Carroll and the corner forward scored soft goal.
This seemed to ignite Ballyduff as Crotta wasted chance after chance and they were made pay in the 49th minute when Barry O'Grady's high cross, was fielded by Gary O'Brien and he scored a second goal, that gave his side the lead for the first time, 2-9 to 0-14.

Ballyduff were not about to concede the goal that Crotta needed as late points from Padraig Boyle and Bobby O'Sullivan, saw Ballyduff post back to back titles under new Antrim boss Jerry Wallis, and they will now face Cork champions Courcey Rvs who are ironically coached by Kerry boss John Meyler.

B O'Sullivan 0-7 (0-6 frees, 0-1 '65), G O'Brien and A O'Carroll 1-0 each, P Boyle and P J Connolly 0-2 eachCrotta O'Neill's

S Nolan 0-13 (0-11 frees), C Lynch and I McCarthy 0-1 each


P J O'Gorman, J Bowler, P Costello, D O'Grady, L Boyle, A O'Connor, P O'Grady, B O'Sullivan, B O'Grady, G O'Brien, A Boyle, M Boyle , P J Connolly, P Boyle , A O'Carroll.
Subs: none used

Crotta O'Neill's
S Twomey, D Galvin, P Twomey, T B McElligott, D Twomey, A Keane, P Quille, C Lynch, R Nolan, Matt Lynch, Mike Lynch, S Weir, I McCarthy, D Carney, S Nolan
P Costello for R Nolan (29), E O'Sullivan for D Carney (45), T Cronin for Me McCarthy (51), B Culhane for C Lynch (53),

Referee John Healy (Clare)