Tuesday, 17th October 2017
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Championship down to four

Last weekend saw the completion of the quarter finals of the JJ Kavanagh sponsored Waterford Senior Hurling Championship with no real surprises and all fancied teams coming through the "minefield". On Saturday afternoon in Walsh Park it was the turn of reigning champions Ballygunner, on course for four in a row, to face their long time city rivals and title laden Mount Sion. Both managers, Gunners Feargal Hartley and Nicholas Mackey of Mount Sion would have been well aware that there was a rich tradition of winning in both camps. They would also have been very aware that while the champions have been irresistable throughout the group stages, one can never write off Mount Sion in knockout competition.

There was a sizable crowd in the Keane's Road venue for this encounter with the weather making it a good playing surface for hurling. Ballygunner were quickly on the scoreboard as they raced into a 0-6 to 0-1 lead after ten minutes through the efforts of Pauric Mahony, Brian O'Sullivan and Billy O'Keeffe. Mount Sion settled and two points from Stephen Roche frees saw the lead back to three 0-7 to 0-4 after twenty minutes. Mount Sion were struggling in areas of the field but were still within striking distance. Three points from Mahony and one apiece from David Walsh and Peter Hogan helped edge the Gunners ahead but Mount Sion midfielder, the hard working Owen Whelan, put over a brace to see the lead back to four. Pauric Mahony along with Brian O'Sullivan saw the lead out to ten points but Austin Gleeson landed a point before the break to leave a deficit of nine points 0-16 to 0-7. Ballygunner were fully deserving of their lead but the management will be concerned at the number of missed chances (7 wides) throughout the opening half. The second half began with an Austin Gleeson point but that was just a short respite for Mount Sion as the Gunners added three more through Pauric Mahony, David O'Sullivan and Harley Barnes. As they faded an Austin Gleeson free was the only response from Sion and Ballygunner, with Philip Mahony sealing off all routes to goal, took complete control with points from Mahony, Brian O'Sullivan and Harley Barnes giving them a huge 0-29 to 0-9 win. On this evidence the Gunners look nailed on as the team to annex the competition but events have a habit of coming back and biting you.

LISMORE CONTINUE THEIR SUPER YEAR

At Fraher Field on Saturday evening Lismore, County Intermediate champions 2016, faced an Abbeyside outfit who have thus far failed to show their true form. The free scoring Shanahans have been in imperious form for the Cathedral Town outfit that had seen them catapulted right to the top of their group. Looking to get back into a senior semi-final for the first time since 2010, Lismore have confounded many pundits but their form keeps improving as the games pass by. Abbeyside on the other have have a rich blend of experience and talent and will be well aware that this was the perfect opportunity of getting to the last four. Jordan Shanahan of Lismore and Mark Ferncombe exchanged goals in the opening five minutes to see the teams tied 1-1 apiece. This could indeed be a very close game with plenty of excitement. Tom Looby had a goal for Abbeyside on 12 minutes but "Big Dan" Shanahan did likewise for Lismore two minutes later to see his team ahead 2-3 to 2-2. Lismore began to dominate the exchanges and a third goal for them from who else but Dan saw them to the break with a comfortable 3-10 to 2-5 lead. The game was not panning out as a terrific encounter. Lets's jump forward to midway through the second half and Lismore ahead 3-15 to 2-8. Mark Ferncombe collects for Abbeyside and goals 3-15 to 3-8. A minute later he again crashes home and just three points seperates the sides. With the wind in their sails it was Abbeyside who were calling the tune and the levelling points came on 59 minutes as Ferncombe, who ended with 3-5, saw the score 4-12 to 3-15. This was exhilarating stuff but it ended in heartbreak for Abbeyside as deep in additional time Stevie Barry collected and landed the winning point for Lismore. The Black and Amber hoops had come through to take their place in the last four. For Abbeyside it was certainly their best game of the competition and one which I'm sure will give them heart for 2018.

IMPRESSIVE DE LA SALLE

On Sunday there was a double header in Fraher Field which featured De La Salle against Fourmilewater in the opening encounter. The Stephen Street outfit have been the fancy of many for ultimate victory and their form throughout the group , with the exception of their loss to Ballygunner, would justify that belief. They have been quietly going about their business, a warning to all. De La Salle had the better of the early exchanges leading 0-7 to 0-4 after the opening quarter. A goal for De La Salle from Shane Ryan after sixteen minutes and a brace of points from John Mullane gave the city side a cushion going into the break where they led 1-13 to 0-8. De La Salle with Kevin Moran as conductor continued to hold that lead throughout the second half as Fourmilewater struggled to breach the gap. Leading 1-17 to 0-12 at the three quarter stage and Shane Ryan in free scoring form the Eoin Dunphy outfit came through on a 1-19 to 0-15 scoreline with Dylan Guiry having contributed 0-8 of the Fourmilewater tally.

PASSAGE FINE RUN CONTINUES

The second game of this double header bill saw Dungarvan face Passage. This was a game that few would call with a great deal of confidence. Both teams had shown real championship ambition in recent weeks and there was never going to be much between them. Passage led at the break 0-8 to 0-6 but a Colm Curran point levelled 0-10 apiece at the three quarter mark. The Old Boro edged ahead through Kieran Power after 54 minutes and when Michael Kiely added another, Dungarvan led 0-14 to 0-12. Owen Connors hit a point for Passage on 59 minutes as the game built to a crescendo. In additional time the only goal of the game arrived when former intercounty star Eoin Kelly, who had been called into action from the bench, blazed past Darren Duggan. Advantage Passage and there they stayed despite some frantic Dungarvan attacks and a last minute effort from Gavin Crotty which went over the bar. The final score 1-14 to 0-15 ended a real nail biter and saw the fishing village safely through to the semi-finals. They will be delighted in Passage to have made it through although they will also be aware that a repeat of their wide tally (18) will not be welcome in the semi-final.

SEMI-FINAL DRAW

Following the series of quarter finals on Sunday the draw was made for the semi-finals and it has thrown up two mouthwatering games which will be played this weekend. Passage will face De La Salle while Ballygunner will play Lismore. Times and venues to follow.

RELEGATION NIGHTMARE

In the Senior Hurling Championship relegation playoff it was Ballyduff Upper who retained their senior status with a very comprehensive 3-22 to 0-8 win over Portlaw. This result will see the Tannery Town club back in the Intermediate grade for 2018.

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