Ballygunner 4-20 Passage 1-12
A powerful second-half showing assured Ballygunner of a third successive Waterford SHC crown at Walsh Park, on a day when they simply had too much for neighbours Passage, as they prevailed on a 4-20 to 1-12 scoreline.
In front of a 3,811-strong attendance, and inspired by another outstanding display by the talismanic Pauric Mahony, the Gunners emulated the feats of their predecessors from the 1960s and 90s in securing this three-in-a-row success.
Playing with the strong first-half wind, Passage sprung impressively from the blocks, with All Star nominee Noel Connors the first to find his range after six minutes, and twice during the first half they led by five points.
Ballygunner finally got off the mark after 11 minutes via a Pauric Mahony free, with Peter Hogan adding to that tally moments later.
Denis Walsh’s side tagged on 2-04 during a dominant second quarter, with Tim O’Sullivan and Billy O’Keeffe finding the Passage net to put the holders into a commanding position, but frees from Killian Fitzgerald (0-02) and Owen Connors left them just 2-05 to 0-10 down at the break.
Thereafter, Ballygunner took total command, adding 2-15 to their interval tally, with a spirited Passage mustering just 1-03 as Thomas Connors slotted home a consolation goal seven minutes from time.
Pauric Mahony kept the scoreboard operator busy, demonstrating unerring, wind-assisted accuracy with his free-taking, and also found time to slam home a 52nd-minute goal.
Moments earlier, substitute Stephen Power unleashed an unstoppable drive beyond the overworked Eddie Lynch, as the holders turned on the style, avenging their 2013 final defeat to Passage.
Ballygunner face Thurles Sarsfields in the Munster championship at Semple Stadium next Sunday.
Ballygunner: S O’Keeffe; E Hayden, B Coughlan, I Kenny; H Barnes, Philip Mahony, S Walsh; P Hogan (0-03), S O’Sullivan; D O’Sullivan (0-01), B O’Keeffe (1-0), Pauric Mahony (1-11; 0-07f); C Power, B O’Sullivan (0-04), T O’Sullivan (1-00)
Subs used: W Hutchinson for B O’Keeffe (44), S Power (1-01) for H Barnes (48), M Mahony for C Power (52), JJ Hutchinson for T O’Sullivan (54), J McCarthy for P Hogan (55)
Passage: E Lynch; D Lynch, J Flood, A Roche (0-01); S Mason, N Connors (0-01), J Roche (0-01); P Walsh, S Hogan; O Connors (0-02; 0-01f), T Connors (1-1), K Fitzgerald (0-04; 0-03f); C Carey, E Kelly (0-02; 0-01f), G Cullinane
Subs used: J Whitty for G Cullinane (HT), R Hurley for C Carey (54), C O’Neill for K Fitzgerald (60+), P Flynn for S Mason (60+), P Donnellan for A Roche (60+)
Referee: Michael O’Brien (Portlaw)