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Ballyea in a league of their Eoin after powerful finish

Under 18A Hurling League Final
Ballyea 1-20 Sixmilebridge 1-11

A devastating finish saw Ballyea complete a remarkable 13 point second half turnaround to snatch their first ever Under 18A League title on the away soil of O’Garney Park in Sixmilebridge on Wednesday evening. Having led for the previous 30 minutes, the ‘Bridge seemed set for victory themselves when accentuating their 0-8 to 0-7 half-time edge with a goal after only 25 seconds of the restart as good play from Stephen Gavin was finished to the bottom right corner by Donal O’Leary.
However, it was if subconsciously the home side assumed that the job was done as they would be sorely second best for the remainder as the defiant visitors outscored them by 1-13 to 0-03 in the final 30 minutes.
Eoin Kennedy found his range from frees while the talismanic Eoin O’Connor provided the real spark to ignite Ballyea’s challenge when fielding a Dillon Killoughery delivery to cut in from the left corner and finish emphatically to the net at 1-9 to 1-8.
There was a brief resistance from Sixmilebridge as chief threat Dylan Keogh and freetaker Rory Chaplin inched their side back in front by the 38th minute. However, that was as good as it got for the hosts who would only score once more as instead Ballyea gathered thunderous momentum with eleven of the last twelve points to run out facile victors.
Inevitably, the electric O’Connor was central to operations up front as the Under 16 picked off three further points as did inspirational captain Daniel Costelloe. Rangy centre-back Eoin Kennedy arrowed over four additional long range frees as Ballyea surprisingly romped to victory without little fuss over the last twenty minutes.
The first half was a much more even affair albeit that Ballyea hit seven wides while Sixmilebridge also had a penalty saved by goalkeeper Sean O’Malley.
In a lively tie that did lack quality at times, Dillon Killoughery excellent opening point from the throw-in was answered by a three point home burst through Rory Chaplin (2) and Conor Gleeson to wrestle back control at 0-3 to 0-1 by the seventh minute.
Eoin O’Connor and Cian Conroy twice traded points before a four point rally from the visitors handed them an unlikely lead nearing the break. I say unlikely as while Luke Minogue (2) and Darragh O’Neill regained full parity by the 24th minute, the concession of a needless penalty after a defensive error and subsequent foul on Donal O’Leary looked to undo all their good work.
However, goalkeeper O’Malley more than made up for his mistake with a superb full length save to deny Cillian Murphy. If that wasn’t enough, the visiting goalkeeper pulled off an even more impressive stop to deflect a Dylan Keogh shot past the post for a ’65 that Chaplin converted to level matters for a third time.
Keogh did get off the mark in injury-time to ensure a minimum 0-8 to 0-7 interval lead but despite a major boost of a goal immediately on the resumption, the ‘Bridge fell away all too easily against a rampant Ballyea that cantered to victory to join neighbours Éire Óg and St Joseph’s Doora/Barefield on the new minor league roll of honour.

Ballyea: Sean O’Malley; Thomas Hehir, Fionn Carrigan, Daniel Browne; Darragh O’Neill, Eoin Kennedy, Sam Garry; Dillon Killoughery, Daniel Costelloe; Bill Egan, Eoin Costello, Evan Cleary; Eoin O’Connor, Julian Linnane, Luke Minogue
Subs: Sean O’Sullivan for Egan (41), Cillian Moylan for Minogue (61), Donal Carrigan for Costello (61)

Scorers: Eoin O’Connor (1-5, 2f); Eoin Kennedy (0-6f); Daniel Costelloe (0-3); Luke Minogue, Evan Cleary (0-2 each); Dillon Killoughery, Darragh O’Neill (0-1 each)

Sixmilebridge: Conor Keogh; Cuan Mac Giolla Cearra, Mark Mullins, Conor Peacock; Dylan Keogh, Zak Phelan, Cillian Murphy; Stephen Gavin, Luke Deegan; Cian Conroy, Dylan Keogh, Rory Chaplin; Donal O’Leary, Neil Forde, Conor Gleeson

Scorers: Rory Chaplin (0-6, 4f, 1’65); Donal O’Leary (1-0); Cian Conroy, Dylan Keogh (0-2 each); Conor Gleeson (0-1)

Referee: Chris Maguire (Wolfe Tones)

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