14-Man Tracton Defeated in Junior Hurling Final
Updated: Oct 26, 2022
Writes Ciaran Dineen from Pairc Uí Chaoimh
Ballygiblin secured their second promotion in a row as they overcame a resilient 14-man Tracton in the Premier Junior Hurling Championship Final on Saturday evening.
A red card for Michael O’Sullivan after 25 minutes was the crucial moment in the game, as Tracton could not overcome the man advantage despite putting in a performance to be proud of in Pairc Uí Chaoimh.
Tracton were playing in their first County Final since 2010, when they faced local rivals Ballymartle, in the Premier Intermediate Hurling Championship Final. Today their opponents, Ballygiblin, based east of Mitchelstown, were looking to make it back to back promotions, having won the lower Junior Hurling final last year, before going on to win Munster and compete in an All-Ireland final.
While it was predicted in the build-up that neither team were heavy favourites, given Ballygiblin’s recent success and a winning momentum, the soothsayers may have foreseen a victory for the north Cork side. However, considering that this was the first time in a generation of players to reach a final for Tracton, the fanfare and level of occasion they found themselves in and driven by the support of all in Minane Bridge and the wider Carrigdhoun area, the stage was set for new heroes to emerge.
The start was the stuff of dreams for Tracton. John Good’s attempt at a shot from the 45 metre line was delfected into the path of Paul O’Riordan. O’Riordan, bearing down on goal handpassed to his outside where joint captain, Michael O’Sullivan was running in support. O’Sullivan made no mistake from inside the 21 metre line and buried the ball past the Ballygiblin goalkeeper, with just 20 seconds on the clock, sending the travelling Tracton support ecstatic.
To their credit, Ballygiblin responded to the early setback through a couple of scores from Shane Beston and Joseph O’Sullivan. Mark Byrne grabbed Tracton’s first point of the day, but after 14 minutes Ballygublin had tied the game at 1-1 to 0-4, with Joseph O’Sullivan causing Tracton all sorts of problems.
With a third of the game gone, the North Cork side had found their stride in the contest and began to keep the scoreboard ticking over, leading by 1-2 to 0-7. Tracton were finding it difficult to put a shape to their game, but this was more a consequence of Ballygiblin’s ability to break up their play. However, the South Cork team continued to fight for every ball and a long-range free from Conor McGuiness brought Tracton back within a point.
A huge moment in the game occurred with 25 minutes on the clock. Goalscorer and joint captain, Michael O’Sullivan, was shown a straight red card after what appeared to be as a result of him pulling at the faceguard of current Cork Senior hurler and former Aussie Rules professional, Mark Keane.
In many circumstances the loss of such an important leader on the pitch for Tracton may have knocked their confidence, however in this case the opposite was true. Tracton were buoyed by the decision and found scores through a Ronan Walsh free and a fine point from play by Mark Byrne, who grabbed his second score of the day.
Ballygiblin would have the last say of the first half however, with a free pointed by O’Sullivan, putting the North Cork side 1-5 to 0-10 up at halftime.
Tracton needed to have a good start to the second half and they duly did. A couple of frees from Ronan Walsh either side of another point from Ballygiblin brought Tracton within a point of their opponents with 34 minutes on the clock.
In the second half, a couple of key performers for Ballybiglin stood up and played a key role in their team’s victory. Cathal O’Mahony and Joseph O’Sullivan were particularly pivotal as they stretched their lead to four points with 47 minutes gone.
Tracton introduced a couple of subs to freshen things up, however the toll of playing with a man less began to take its effect as the game entered the final quarter. The nail in the coffin for Tracton was a goal on 50 minutes which came in controversial circumstances. Corner back, Rory Sinclair looked to have done enough to clear the ball off the line from a Ballygibbon shot, but the umpires awarded the goal, despite the protests of Tracton ‘keeper, Kieran Lyons.
The goal took the sting out of the game but Tracton continued to fight for every ball until the referee blew the final whistle. A further goal for Ballygiblin added to their lead, but Tracton kept the scoreboard ticking over, however it was not enough to overcome the eventual 10-point defeat.
Congratulations to Ballygiblin on another county final victory and commiserations to a resilient Tracton team, who gave it their all.
Tracton Scorers: Ronan Walsh 0-6 (0-6f), Mark Byrne 0-4 (0-2f), Michael O’Sullivan 1-0, Darragh Kidney 0-1 (0-1f), Conor McGuiness 0-1.
Tracton: Kieran Lyons; David Good, Tom McGuiness (JC), Rory Sinclair; Keith Webb, Graham Webb, Conor McGuiness; John Good, Daniel O’Flaherty; David Byrne, Michael O’Sullivan (JC). Mark Byrne; Daniel Harrington, Paul O’Riordan, Ronan Walsh.
Tracton Subs: Cian Quinn for O’Riordan (40min), Darragh Kidney for Byrne (45). Mark Byrne (reintroduced) for O’Flaherty (55). Sean O’Sullivan for Quinn (58), Eoin Kingston for Harrington (62).
Referee: William Wallace (Aghada)