Category: Archive

Birr, Clarinbridge head for club hurling final

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Mark Jones

Clarinbridge 1-15, Ballygunner 2-8

DUBLIN — First-time winners of the Galway title, Clarinbridge upset the form book when they were full value for an exhilarating victory over Ballygunner of Waterford in last Sunday’s All-Ireland club hurling championship semifinal at Thurles.

Despite having to battle for most of the second half with 14 men when defender Gerry Spelman was sent off for a second bookable offense, Clarinbridge brilliantly held off Ballygunner’s challenge and even managed to score four points without reply in a key 15 minute period.

With Galway dual star Alan Kerins, who had earlier scored 1-2, moving back to help the defense, Clarinbridge were well-organized enough to snuff out the threat of Paul Flynn, Paul Foley and Billy O’Sullivan, although admittedly the Ballygunner attack was a disappointment.

“It looked grim for us after the sending off,” said the winners’ coach, John McIntyre. “But then in a curious way, losing a man suited us, opened up things and changed the flow of the game. Up to then it had been an orthodox kind of match, but there was a load of breaking ball around the middle of the field.”

Never miss an issue of The Irish Echo

Subscribe to one of our great value packages.

Midfielder Darragh Coen contributed seven vital frees, while captain Michael Donoghue was also outstanding for Clarinbridge. Foley had a goal for Ballygunner soon after Kerins’s 19th-minute strike, but the Waterford side, who were bidding to become the first club from the county to reach an All-Ireland decider since 1982, failed to make an impression during the second half.

Birr 2-12 Dunloy 1-11

If Clarinbridge’s success was a surprise, Birr’s passage to yet another All-Ireland club hurling final wasn’t. Yet the Offaly club were pushed all the way at Clones by a tigerish performance from Dunloy of Antrim.

Indeed, with just six minutes remaining and the contest finely in the balance, Birr goalkeeper Brian Mullins produced a brilliant save to deny Paddy Richmond what could have been the decisive goal.

Dunloy had by far the better of the opening exchanges, with Paudie McMullan pouncing for an early goal. However, Birr responded when Simon Whelahan converted a close-range chance, and then, inspired by Brian Whelahan, they had a lucky break as Stephen Brown’s poorly struck shot was deflected into the net for a second goal.

Other Articles You Might Like

Sign up to our Daily Newsletter

Click to access the login or register cheese