Ballygunner 3-20 Kilmallock 1-12
Goals from Dessie Hutchinson, Kevin Mahony and Billy O'Keeffe blasted Ballygunner to their third-ever Munster Senior Club Hurling Championship title thanks to a 3-20 to 1-12 win over Limerick champions Kilmallock at Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Sunday evening.
Hutchinson hit 1-05 and Pauric Mahony scored 0-07, the main architects of this comfortable win, while Kevin Mahony and O'Keeffe added to Hutchinson's 10th minute goal, notching the third-quarter goals that rounded off this success.
By half-time, the 2018 Munster champions were leading by nine points with Huntchinson raising the green flag after just 10 minutes.
The Waterford danger man could have had his second goal of the afternoon two minutes later. However, Barry Hennessy pulled off a superb low save to deny the Ballygunner half-forward, keeping Kilmallock, albeit temporarily, in the game.
Ballygunner extended their lead to 14 points by the full-time whistle, outclassing a Kilmallock side who recorded just 10 points from play in what proved to be a very difficult outing for Tony Considine’s side.
Last October, a Kilmallock side that had contested nine Limerick semi-finals in a row but hadn't won the title since 2014 defeated a fancied Patrickswell outfit featuring All-Stars of Cian Lynch, Aaron Gillane and Diarmaid Byrnes.
The 2019 Munster finalists Ballygunner, who have been crowned Waterford Senior Hurling Championship winners on 20 separate occasions, last won the prestigious O'Neill Cup in 2018, defeating Na Piarsaigh of Limerick. Sunday’s game was the Gunners fourth Munster final appearance in a row, albeit with the exception of 2020 when the provincial competition was cancelled due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on Gaelic games.
The 12-time Limerick champions comfortably defeated Cork champions Midleton by seven points – 0-19 to 1-9 –at the semi-final stage in TUS Gaelic Grounds, while Ballygunner overcame Clare’s Ballyea in the quarter-final before a five-point win over Loughmore-Castleiney of Tipperary sent the Waterford champions into the final.
Kilmallock had started the brighter of the two sides and were two points ahead by the third minute with Graeme Mulcahy slotting over two quick-fire scores in the early stages.
However, Ballygunner were leading by six points – 1-06 to 0-03 – by the first water break with a Dessie Hutchinson goal in the 10th minute putting the Gunners on their way.
It was Ballygunner 1-11 to Kilmallock's 0-05 by the half-time break.
Both Mahony and O’Keeffe added further goals before the second half water break, at which Ballygunner led by 14 points.
Substitute Conor Hanley found the back of the net with a consolation goal stoppage time, but it proved too little too late for the Limerick men.
Ballygunner: Stephen O'Keeffe; Ian Kenny, Barry Coughlan (joint capt.), Tadhg Foley; Shane O’Sullivan, Philip O’Mahony (joint capt.), Ronan Power; Conor Sheahan, Paddy Leavey (0-02); Dessie Hutchinson (1-05), Mikey Mahony (0-01), Peter Hogan (0-02); Billy O’Keeffe (1-03), Kevin Mahony (1-00), Pauric Mahony (0-07, 0-04, 0-01 '65).
Subs: Conor Power for Hogan (55 mins) Eddie Hayden for O’Sullivan (57 mins), Harry Ruddle for O’Keeffe (58 mins), Jake Foley fort Hutchinson, Barry O’Sullivan for Mahony (both 59 mins)
Kilmallock: Barry Hennessy; Liam English, Mark O’Loughlin, Dan Joy; Philip O’Loughlin (capt.), Ciaran O’Connor (0-01), Paudie O’Brien; Robbie Hanley (0-01), Aaron Costello; Michael Houlihan (0-01), Oisin O’Reilly (0-01), David Woulfe; Graeme Mulcahy (0-02), Gavin O’Mahony, Kevin O’Donnell (0-03, 0-02f)
Subs: Paddy O’Loughlin for Houlihan (25 mins, injured), for Conor Hanley (1-01, 1-00f) for Philip O’Loughlin (half-time), Robbie Egan for O’Mahony, Pheilim O’Reilly (0-01) for Woulfe (both 45 mins), Killian Hayes (0-01) for Costello (51 mins)