Michael O’Connor reports on the delayed 2020 Junior A championship final which saw Banner defeat Ballyvaughan on a score of 3-12 to 0-6
The fairytale story of the Banner GAA club in the last number of seasons continues unabated with promotion, albeit nine months later, to the Intermediate Football Championship.
Their reward for this latest win is one of the shortest celebrations in Clare GAA history as they face neighbours and fellow townies, Éire Óg, in Round 1 of the championship this weekend.
The loss of Shane Meehan suggested that the Banner would struggle against an experienced Ballyvaughan side, however, the youthful nature and clear ability in the side compensated for the loss of their talisman.
The game was less than two minutes old when Ballyvaughan netminder Damian McNamara conceded a penalty that was blasted over the bar by Daire Walsh for the opening score and a let off for Pat Costello’s charges.
Clare senior panellist Jonah Culligan, to whom Ballyvaughan look to for scores, hit back with a great point after five minutes. Ballyvaughan captain James Howard sent the North Clare side into a shortlived lead, before scores from Daire Walsh and Ronan O’Halloran had the Banner a point clear.
The opening quarter was fast paced with much excitement. John Martyn won a free, converted by Culligan, to level proceedings before Damian McNamara had to be alert to deny Ronan Collins a Banner goal.
Ballyvaughan dominated the intervening five minutes, but all they had to show for their endeavours was a wide from James Hynes.
— Banner GAA Ennis (@BannerGAAEnnis) July 24, 2021
Ballyvaughan lost Philip Queally to a black card before the final score of the opening quarter fell to Banner midfielder Darragh Gleeson as they held a 0-4 to 0-3 lead.
Ballyvaughan were far from disappointed with this early showing, yet it was clear that the Banner were stronger on the field without the scores on the board.
James Coakley and Jonah Culligan kept the scoreboard ticking over, before Daire Walsh with a free sent the Ennis side two clear. Adrian Nilan was off target with a Ballyvaughan free.
At this juncture the Banner went into overdrive and took control of the game and ultimately the title. The impressive James Coakley (2) ensured a double score lead just before half-time.
The final act of the opening 30 minutes saw a brilliant crossfield ball collected by Thomas Meenaghan and he released to the onrushing Danny O’Halloran and the full-forward made no mistake to leave seven points between the sides, 1-8 to 0-4 entering the second-half.
The third quarter did not live up to the efforts of the opening half. Ballyvaughan defended in depth and whilst it stifled the Banner scoring potential, it also negated any scoring opportunities for Ballyvaughan.
Darragh Gleeson was in the sin bin early in the second-half. Danny O’Halloran and Daire Walsh for Banner and Mark Walsh for Ballyvaughan were the only point men in the opening ten minutes of the new half as both sides began to bring on replacements.
Eventually, the second goal that Ballyvaughan had defended valiantly against materialised. James Coakley’s effort cannoned off the crossbar and the alert John Collins palmed the rebound to the net.
It was scant justice for the work of Ballyvaughan to be now 11 points in arrears, but worse was to come as the game petered out to its inevitable result.
Daire Walsh pointed a free as the final score for Ballyvaughan came from a Jonah Culligan free in the 52nd minute.
Danny O’Halloran made it a personal day to remember with his second and his side’s third goal before Daire Walsh rounded off a evening to remember for the GAA in Ennis.
Best for the Junior A champions included Cian Rynne, Ronan O’Halloran, Niall Walsh, Darragh Gleeson, James Coakley, Daire Walsh and Danny O’Halloran, who finished the game as top scorer.
Ballyvaughan gave all and the final scoreline did scant justice to the effort exerted. Damian McNamara, Mark Walsh, Jonah Culligan, James Hynes, Adam Walsh and John Martyn were to the fore for the Junior A finalists.
After the game Anne Hayes, Assistant Secretary of Clare GAA presented the Michael Toner Junior A Cup to Banner Captain Cian Rynne who paid fulsome tribute to the officers and players of Banner GAA and complimented the efforts of Ballyvaughan.
Mission accomplished was the overriding emotion of Banner manager John Burke.
“It has been a long time waiting for this final and the players worked hard on their own with individual programmes and staying on contact until we could go back on the field.
“It is vital for the development of Banner GAA that our hurlers and footballers can play at the highest grade their talent allows.
“This week is now a recovery week as we prepare for the Intermediate football championship in which we hope we can stay in the grade and build up our panel over the coming years,” he continued.
“The urban board that was in place for a number of years helped greatly to give players a chance to join a choice of clubs at a young age and this was the foundation for the great numbers of youth that now involved in hurling and football,” he said.
Banner: Mark Cleary, Oran Rynne, Cian Rynne (Capt), Eoin Walsh, Sean Collins, Ronan O Halloran (0-1), Niall Walsh, Darragh Gleeson (0-1), Johnny Martin, Thomas Meenaghan, Colm Duffy, James Coakley (0-3), Ronan Collins, Danny O Halloran (2-1), Daire Walsh (0-6). Subs: John Collins (1-0) for Duffy, Diarmuid Cassidy for Martin, Mark Duffy for O Rynne, Tolagh Coote for Meenaghan, Ollie Gleeson for R Collins.
Ballyvaughan: Damian McNamara, Joseph Flanagan, Kieran Casey, Mark Walsh (0-1), Adam Walsh, Philip Queally, Neil Walsh, James Hynes. Cormac Brennan, Lorcan Mahon, James Howard (0-1), Pheilm Kyne, Adrian Nilan, Jonah Culligan (0-4), John Martyn. Subs: Donnacha Mahon for Nilan, Cian Walsh for N Walsh, John McCormack for Howard, Scion Flanagan for L Mahon,
Referee: Barry Kelly