Fr O’Neill’s 0-8
THE Ballincollig fans were in jubilant mood at Páirc Uí Rinn last night after their team made history winning the Rebel Óg Premier 2 minor hurling championship title for the first time.
They were behind by two points at the changeover but they showed great character to cross the line in style after hitting 1-7 to an O’Neill’s point in the second 30 minutes.
It was a massive successive for the Mid Cork club, more noted for their football than hurling lately, and indeed last year a number of these talented youngsters helped capture the club’s first Rebel Óg Premier 1 minor football crown.
After struggling in the A grade for a number of years they decided to step up to Premier 2 hurling this season and have shown great guts and no little skill to end the season as champions under the guidance of Michael O’Brien.
Defending champions Fr O’Neill’s started well and were quick to make their mark with Joe Millerick prominent around the middle of the field. His point, three Paudie McMahon frees and another score from the hard-working Ken Hegarty yielded a 0-5 to 0-2 lead.
However, with Cian Dorgan converting a few vital frees for Ballincollig, they only trailed by a pair of points at the interval, 0-7 to 0-5.
They were also turning to play with wind advantage. And even though Joe Millerick registered the first point of the new half for the Ballymacoda team, it was not long before Ballincollig found the target.
Points from Stephen Bunyan, a Dorgan free and an excellent effort from wing-back Diarmuid McDonnell (his second) and parity was achieved midway through the new half.
Fr O’Neill’s had hit their share of wides and while they tried with a great deal of effort to find a response, it was Ballincollig who set about putting a few more scores on the board.
The industrious Colm O’Donovan landed a free while Dorgan picked off another good point to move ahead 0-10 to 0-8. The Ballincollig back line was solid too refusing to let O’Neill’s too near on goal.
Captain Mark Prendergast, Peter O’Neill, Brian O’Halloran and McDonnell headed up a dominant rear-guard as man-of-the-match Dorgan increased his tally to seven, and the overall lead to four points.
But, the Muskerry boys were not finished just yet and they had the final say when Stephen Bunyan collected around the danger area and made no mistake rattling the back of the net two minutes into stoppage time.
Their coach, Michael O’Brien, was full of praise for his side afterwards.
“The lads put their hearts and souls into this final and thankfully they got what they deserved,” said Michael.
“We knew that it was going to be a tough battle with Fr O’Neill’s but we played some great hurling in the second-half and managed to come out on top.
“It’s brilliant for the club to win this title for the first time and hopefully it will be the starting point for more success in hurling for us.”
Scorers for Ballincollig: C Dorgan 0-7 (0-6 f), S Bunyan 1-1, D McDonnell 0-2, S Coughlan, C O’Donovan (f) 0-1 each.
Fr O’Neill’s: P McMahon 0-4 f, K Hegarty (f), J Millerick (0-1 f) 0-2 each.
BALLINCOLLIG: A Buckley; P O’Neill, K O’Sullivan, D Burns; D McDonnell, B O’Halloran, M Prendergast; C Dorgan, S Murphy; S Coughlan, M O’Leary, A O’Donovan; C O’Donovan, E O’Donoghue, S Bunyan.
Sub: W Greene for A O’Donovan (63).
FR O’NEILL’S: E O’Neill; T Millerick, A Kenneally, M Motherway; W Lane, M O’Keeffe, K Hegarty; A McAvoy, J Millerick; K O’Sullivan, D Sexton, P McMahon; D O’Driscoll, D Dalton, B Dunne.
Sub: S Lee for K O’Sullivan (46).
Referee: S Collins (Carrigaline).