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Ballinhassig Fall Just Short in Epic Semi-Final

Writes Ciaran Dineen

Ballinassig 1-16

Castlelyons 1-17

Ballinhassig came agonisingly close to reaching the Premier Intermediate Hurling Championship final this evening, but fell just short in the narrowest of defeats to Castlelyons. A late goal from substitute Chris Reynolds brought the Blues within one point of their opponents, but couldn’t quite level the game, in what was a thrilling contest.

Ballinhassig made one change to the starting 15 that had beaten Carrigaline in the Quarter-Final, with Cillian Tyres starting from the off and Diarmuid O’Sullivan dropping out. It was crucial for the ‘Blues’ to start strongly against a much-fancied Castlelyons, but they quickly found themselves trailing by three points after conceding an early penalty.

Patrick O’Leary was adjudged to have fouled his man inside the square, with the referee blowing up and stretching out his arms. Castlelyons keeper Jack Barry sauntered up from his own goal, eyeing down his counterpart, Pa Collins in the Ballinhassig goal to take the penalty and none of Collins’ bouncing on the line could stop Barry from blasting to the back of the net, and with seven minutes gone it was 0-1 to 1-1.

Conor Desmond was much more consistent from the placed ball than in the previous game against Carrigaline, scoring all of his side’s points from free in the opening quarter. Evan Cullinane, who was outstanding in the quarter-final win over local rivals Carrigaline, struggled in the opening stages to get his hands on the ball, but just after the water break, he scored his first of the day, in what was the ‘Blues’ opening point from play.

However, despite doing the majority of the hurling, Ballinhassig were wasteful with the ball in the first half, as their final ball kept leaving them down. They registered eight wides in the first half, but finished the opening 30 minutes strongly, as Ger Collins grabbed a lovely point after some fine interchanging play with Michael Sheehan, while Eddie Finn scored after a strike just before half-time, giving the Ballinhassig supporters something to shout about as the referee blew his whistle.

The Blues made a change at halftime, with Chris Reynolds coming in to replace Michael Sheehan and the former would go on to have a good impact for his side. The teams traded points in the early stages of the second half, but Ballinhassig slowly but surely reduced the margin as the game went on. Simon O’Neill, another substitute, along with Ger Collins, grabbed a couple of points each, much to the delight of the Ballinhassig crowd in attendance.

Unfortunately, every time the Blues looked like coming up with an equaliser, a combination of wasteful play and a few wides here or there, prevented them from doing so. While they were very much second-best throughout the contest, Castlelyons were more clinical than the Village, and when the game was in the melting-pot, their class and composure came to the fore.

With just two minutes to go, there were four points between the teams. Ballinhassig looked dead and buried but Chris Reynolds popped up with a tidy pulled finish to score a goal with about 30 seconds to play. However, despite showing incredible heart and resilience, the Blues just couldn’t find the all-important score they needed and Castlelyons held on to claim the win.

Ballinassig Scores: Desmond 0-6 (All frees) C Reynolds 1-1, G Collins 0-3, Finn and O’Neill, Cullinane 0-2 (Each)

Ballinhassig: Pa Collins; Pádraig Laoire, Kevin Maguire, Michael Desmond; Donncha Donovan, Michael Collins, Shane McCarthy; Michael Sheehan, Eddie Finn; Ger Collins Charlie Grainger, Cillian Tyres; Evan Cullinane, Conor Desmond and Fintan O’Leary.

Subs: Chris Reynolds for Sheehan (HT), Simon O’Neill for F O’Leary (43min), Brian Lynch for Tyres (48), Diarmuid O’Sullivan for Cullinane (53).

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