Ballygunner 2-11 Mount Sion 0-8

Ballygunner are champions of Waterford for the ninth successive season.

The All-Ireland champions saw off Mount Sion in the Déise decider to equal the record of the monastery men and Erin's Own in winning nine county titles in a row.

Stephen O’Keeffe made two superb saves for the Gunners, as goals either side of half time from Pauric Mahony and Peter Hogan proved decisive at a rain soaked Walsh Park.

The first half saw just nine scores, but it wasn’t for a lack of presentable opportunity and drama in tandem.

Mount Sion were playing in the decider for the first time since 2014, but it was Ballygunner's Pauric Mahony who pointed the day’s opening score on three minutes with a well-taken free from distance, the first of 1-02 in the first half for the former Waterford captain.

The unpleasant orange weather warning conditions made it difficult to play the free flowing hurling we had previously witnessed from both sides, as it became a slow burning affair early on with a number of efforts sailing wide.

Pauric Mahony celebrates his goal

Mount Sion's profligacy was soon punished, as Mikey Mahony found Dessie Hutchinson in space and a trademark effort from the corner forward put the Gunners two to the good.

It was a frustrating first period for the monastery men, Evan Curran also firing wide having skipped past his opposite number nine Paddy Leavy - but their first real opportunity soon presented itself, and a golden one at that.

A stunning pass with his back to goal by Austin Gleeson set Owen Whelan away, who laid the ball off to the onrushing Jamie Gleeson, but he was stopped in his tracks by a high tackle from Barry Coughlan. A yellow card followed as referee Thomas Walsh awarded a penalty.

Up stepped Austin Gleeson against his former inter county teammate Stephen O’Keeffe - and it was the goalkeeper who had the last laugh, springing to make a superb stop with the sliotar seemingly destined for the top left corner.

Gleeson somewhat made amends when he did deliver his side’s first score of the day on 16 minutes, a superbly taken free from well within his own half.

If that did bring any joy to John Meaney’s men, it was short lived - as seconds later, they were picking the ball from the net.

O’Keeffe’s puckout went straight into the hand of Mikey Mahony who drove toward goal, offloading to the right to his brother Pauric who made no mistake at the near post.

Austin Gleeson saw his penalty saved

Two scores from Mikey Mahony and Pauric Mahony further added to Mount Sion’s woe, as a Gleeson free trickled harmlessly into O’Keeffe’s path soon after.

He tapped over his and Mount Sion’s third point soon after, but they went in trailing by five at the break, and alarmingly without having scored from play in the first period.

John Kennedy came on at half time for Mount Sion and was involved almost instantly as he was floored by Paddy Leavy, allowing Gleeson to knock over his fourth free of the afternoon.

The resilience of the champions stood firm as Mahony’s third free put them five ahead two minutes after as the trademark sideline cuts weren’t landing for Gleeson. Kevin Mahony was bright throughout for the Gunners and his first point from the right flank further pushed the boat out, as the champions were winning the all important individual battles.

Evan Curran landed Mount Sion’s first score from play on 41 minutes, but they needed many more given they were five behind. Peter Hogan then added his name to the scorers with a well taken effort, as the game looked set to adopt a familiar pattern.

Mount Sion weren’t prepared to give up though, and they had the gap down to four with fifteen left to play after scores from Owen Whelan and Martin O’Neill.

Peter Hogan's goal killed off the Mount Sion challenge

Billy O’Keeffe was found in space to keep the Gunners ticking on, and the substitute sent a message to his manager with a second moments later as Ballygunner showed their mettle.

A stunning individual run and score from Austin Gleeson had Mount Sion holding out hope - but that was destroyed on 51 minutes.

Peter Hogan was picked out and ran in behind Stephen Roche and PJ Fanning down the right flank, sending a thunderous effort to the top left corner past a rooted Iggy O’Regan to move the champions eight clear.

Mahony’s fourth free had Mount Sion suddenly trailing by nine, with the likes of Ian Kenny, Philip Mahony and Ronan Power winning everything that came in their direction - and every time anything did get past them, they were saved by man of the match O’Keeffe.

Ballygunner held on to claim their 21st Waterford crown, and extend Mount Sion's wait for a 36th county title into 2023.

Ballygunner: Stephen O'Keeffe; Ian Kenny, Barry Coughlan, Tadhg Foley; Shane O’Sullivan, Philip Mahony, Ronan Power; Conor Sheahan, Paddy Leavy; Dessie Hutchinson (0-02), Mikey Mahony (0-01), Peter Hogan (1-01); Patrick Fitzgerald, Kevin Mahony (0-01), Pauric Mahony (1-04; 0-04f).

Subs: Billy O’Keeffe (0-02) for Patrick Fitzgerald (43); Tim O’Sullivan for Kevin Mahony (59); Jake Foley for Pauric Mahony (59); Darragh O’Keeffe for Conor Sheahan (60); Barry O’Sullivan for Ronan Power (60)

Mount Sion: Ian O’Regan; Mikey Daykin, Luke O’Brien, PJ Fanning; Martin F O’Neill (0-01), Stephen O’Neill, Ben Flanagan; Stephen Roche, Evan Curran (0-01); Martin O’Neill, Owen Whelan (0-01), Alan Kirwan; Jack Meaney, Austin Gleeson (0-05; 0-04f), Jamie Gleeson

Subs: John Kennedy for Jack Meaney (HT); Dylan Butler for Jamie Gleeson (40); Peter Penkert for Evan Curran (53); Donal Power for Ben Flanagan (60)

Referee: Thomas Walsh (Modeligo)