Mourneabbey (Cork) 2-18 Ballymacarbry (Waterford) 4-08
By Tomás McCarthy
Mourneabbey made it six Munster senior club titles in a row as they scored eight of the last nine points in a thrilling final to break Ballymacarbry hearts again.
Cork stars and sisters Ciara and Doireann O'Sullivan scored 2-11 between them. That included 2-6 from play for player of the match Ciara and five second-half efforts from Doireann. Laura Fitzgerald chipped in with 0-4 for the hungry champions.
For the third consecutive year, Ballymacarbry were on the receiving end of a comeback from the All-Ireland champions. They have now lost 11 Munster A finals since their last success in 2000, all of them to Cork opposition.
Goals by Lauren Guiry, Aileen Wall, Michelle Ryan and Lauren McGregor left the 38-in-a-row Waterford winners 4-07 to 2-10 in front after 42 minutes but the last quarter belonged to Mourneabbey.
An entertaining first half turned into shootout between Ciara O'Sullivan and Aileen Wall. The challengers made a dream start when Aileen Wall pointed off the outside of her right before Lauren Guiry planted the ball in the corner of the net after eight minutes.
The champions replied with an unanswered 1-4 in six minutes. Ciara O'Sullivan palmed home on ten minutes then added two points, with Noelle Healy and Brid O'Sullivan also on target. Michelle Ryan interrupted this purple patch with a Ballymac point.
On 20 minutes, Ciara O'Sullivan finished a defence-splitting hand-pass move to the net for her second goal and a minute later, Aileen Wall drove in from the right wing and her deflected shot flew past Meabh O'Sullivan as the end-to-end action continued.
Mourneabbey lost Doireann O'Sullivan to a yellow card for a tackle on the unmarkable Wall but they finished the half strongly. Injury-time efforts by Ciara O'Sullivan and Laura Fitzgerald left the holders 2-7 to 2-4 up at the break.
A shock looked to be on the cards when Michelle Ryan found the top corner three minutes into the second period, and substitute Lauren McGregor then scrambled home a fourth Ballymac goal.
The sides were level five times as the clock ticked away, but the black and amber of Mourneabbey pulled clear in the final action once again, with the O'Sullivans on song.
Scorers – Mourneabbey: C O'Sullivan 2-6, D O'Sullivan 0-5 (2f), L Fitzgerald 0-4 (1f), N Healy 0-2, B O'Sullivan 0-1. Ballymacarbry: M Ryan 1-3, A Wall 1-2, L McGregor 1-0, L Guiry 1-0, S Ryan 0-2, KA Hogan 0-1.
Mourneabbey: M O'Sullivan; A O'Sullivan, E Meaney, S Conroy; K Coakley, R O’Sullivan; A Ryan, M O’Callaghan, N O’Sullivan; C O’Sullivan, B O’Sullivan, N Healy; L Fitzgerald, D O’Sullivan, S O’Callaghan. Subs: E Harrington for Ryan (h-t), E Jack for N O'Sullivan (41), A Cronin for S O'Callaghan (51).
Ballymacarbry: L Fitzpatrick; T McGrath, M McGrath, M Ryan; M Wall, K McGrath, L Mulcahy; S Ryan, L Ryan; A Wall, KA Hogan, A Dalton; S Ryan, M Ryan, L Guiry.
Subs: L McGregor for Guiry (37), B McMaugh for Dalton (41), B Valuntaite for L Ryan (61).
Referee: S Mulvihill (Kerry).