Pearses 1-14 Ballyhaunis 1-10. Report by Darren Kelly, Connacht Tribune. For the first time in their 44 year old history, Padraig Pearses claimed their first ever Connacht hurling title last Sunday when they pulled clear to defeat Ballyhaunis in the intermediate decider. Not the most thrilling of encounters and it took until the final 10 minutes to come to life, but that won’t bother the supporters from Gurteen and Ballymacward who witnessed their side’s second title in seven days.
After claiming their fourth county title the previous Sunday, Padraig Pearses were fancied to add the Connacht crown, but they faced a Ballyhaunis team determined to do better then they did against Tynagh-Abbey/Duniry at this stage last year.
And that determination was evident after just two minutes when they struck for an early goal. Keith Higgins’ long free worked its way to Liam McDermott; the wing forward tried to make inroads before spilling possession but team mate Stephen Hoban was alert, striking the breaking ball off the ground at a ferocious pace that left Fergal Flannery with no chance of stopping it hitting the net.
A great start for Ballyhaunis; Padraig Pearses didn’t panic and got on with the job in hand but couldn’t make their chances count on the scoreboard. Three goal chances were spurned during the opening 30 minutes – Jimmy Gelston’s snap shot went wide in the sixth minute, Thomas Flannery’s touch five minutes later was well stopped by goalkeeper Michael Walsh, while Barry Donnellan couldn’t get enough on a Hardiman delivery in the 21st minute to trouble the Mayo keeper.
Five first-half wides didn’t help John Jenkins’ side either but they still managed to get ahead in the 13th minute. Two Flannery frees by the seventh minute had reduced arrears to the minimum but they would make a bigger impact before the quarter hour mark.
Cyril Donnellan took possession and ran at the Ballyhaunis defence leaving full back Peter Healy no choice but to bring him to ground. Referee Declan O’Driscoll signalled a penalty and Donnellan hit the net to give the Galway team a 1-2 to 1-0 lead...
PÁDRAIG PEARSES: F Flannery; A Kenny, T Kenny, P Raftery; K Hardiman, T Higgins, T McDonagh; S Hardiman, K Donnellan; B Donnellan, C Donnellan (1-2, 1-0 pen), A Kilkenny; T Flannery (0-10, 0-9f), E Ward, J Gelston (0-2). Subs: A Bellew for K Donnellan; R Lally for E Ward; K Hillary for B Donnellan.
BALLYHAUNIS: M Walsh; D Keadin, P Healy, A Brennan; H McKermitt, D McConn (0-1), P McConn; P Higgins, P Lynch; L McDermott, K Higgins (0-7, 7f),T Buckley; D O’Brien, S Hoban (1-2), N Murphy.
Subs: B Hunt for L McDermott; A Lyons for P Lynch; C McCrudden for D O’Brien.