O'LOUGHLIN GAELS 2-15 : 2-13 BALLYHALE SHAMROCKS
A huge team performance has seen O’Loughlin Gaels Seniors dethrone Ballyhale Shamrocks in a tense semi-final in Nowlan Park. Everyone was writing off the St. Johns side as is understandable considering the quantity of household names the opposition boasts. But the ‘Gaels were not for showing too much respect last Sunday and rightly treated every player with equal measure. The young guns on the team of Paddy Deegan and Huw Lawlor cared less that Henry Shefflin, TJ Reid or Michael Fennelly were in their company. Guided by the stewardship of the centre back play of Brian Hogan, Paddy stepped up to the plate particularly in the second half and cleared ball after ball to set up numerous attacks on the Ballyhale posts. There were heros all over the pitch. Martin Comerford reeled back the years and was into everything throughout the first half that saw him break ball and set up scoring opportunities at will. His energy and passion inspiring the players around him. Mark Bergin was one of those players who benefitted from Gorta’s play scoring a total of 1-9 including a fantastic goal in the first half that saw him thread the ball past the Ballyhale keeper. It was just rewards for the workrate he applied to his game. If you’re looking for work rate you can’t look much further than the full back line Anthony Forristal, Andy Kearns and Eddie Kearns. A couple of early scares in the game were quickly thwarted by a solid line throughout. Mark Bergin’s goal was the difference between the sides at Half time and the large Nowlan Park crowd wondered if it was enough considering the firepower that was available to the champions. And sure enough Ballyhale did hit a purple patch and not only clawed back the lead put went ahead by a single point with 20minutes remaining after a Henry Shefflin free was converted. Mark Bergin immediately hit back with a pointed free of his own and added three more along with a Martin Comerford point to Ballyhale’s single point before Mark Kelly found the net on 26mins. The Gaels now had formed a healthy looking lead and Mark Kelly was finding his groove thanks to excellent play by Jack Nolan and Danny Loughnane. Conor Bergin was introduced and added to further pressure on the Ballyhale defence. The last 10 mins were nail biting if you were from St. Johns Parish. The legs were tiring and Ballyhale were panicking throwing everything at the O’Loughlin Gaels goal. Stephen Murphy made two top class reflex saves during the game but a high ball and low sun combined helped Ballyhale managed to find the net to put the defibrillators on standby as the game came to its climax. Staunch defending by O’Loughlin Gaels defender Eddie Kearns as one TJ Reid launched a final attack ensured that O’Loughlin Gaels head to this year’s County Final in two weeks time. It was a great win and one that was richly deserved. The best team won on the day and now the preparations are underway for a shot at a county title. One that hasn’t been achieved since 2010. Clara stand in the way and will be favourites to regain the title they won in 2013. Our lads will have their work cut out but as we’ve just discovered they like to work. Well done to all and Up the ‘Loughs.
Stephen Murphy, Anthony Forristal, Andy Kearns, Eddie Kearns, How Lawlor, Brian Hogan, Paddy Diegan, Mark Bergin, Shane Mahon, David Burke, Eoghan Grant, Martin Comerford (Capt), Sammy Johnston, Danny Loughane, Mark Kelly. Conor Bergin for S. Johnston 35", Jack Nolan for Shane Mahon 26"