As I walked from Clonmel Sportsfield tonight a neutral commented that the game he just saw was the most excitin’ game of hurling that you’ll see anywhere this summer. I agree with him 100%. It had it all. When you play Ballingarry you expect a tough, hard hitting physical battle and that’s exactly what we got tonight.
The game started with Ballingarry getting the first score after two minutes through a Gerry Fitzgerald point. Gerry was named corner back but was playing as a third midfielder.
Swan got off the mark after three minutes through a Danny O’ Hanlon pointed free. This set the game up nicely and it was point for point in the early exchanges with the score 3 points apiece after eight minutes.
As the half went on we started to get on top with the wind at our backs. 4 points from play in a row from Danny O’ Hanlon, James (Decky) Waters, O’ Hanlon again and Lee Wall as well as another O’ Hanlon free put us 0-07 to 0-04 up after 21 minutes.
Lee Wall grabbed another point from play and Danny slotted another free over to put us 0-09 to 0-05 up at half time.
We started the second half brightly scoring 4 points in 6 minutes. Gerry Walsh got a great score from midfield before O’ Hanlon slotted another over from a placed ball. Dwaine Fogarty, who set up Gerry for his point now got on the score sheet after a well worked move that involved a pinpoint pass from Stephen Hahessy.
In the 37th minute it looked like we hit the killer score when O’ Hanlon rattled the Ballingarry net (old scoreboard side of Clonmel Sportsfield). The scoreline now read Carrick Swan 1-13, Ballingarry 0-07. Fogarty added another a minute later and it looked like we were cruising our way to the South Final.
However, complacency kicked in. We got a free in a scorable position which Danny overhit to Kevin Lanigan which eventually resulted in a Ballinagrry free which Seanie Cahill slotted over the bar. Donal Shelly scored another point shortly after and then a mishit sideline by Martin Russell straight to Seanie Cahill was put over the black spot from 70+ yards.
Ballingarry were now gaining momentum and they started to overpower our half forward line and midfield which made it difficult for us to score.
We went 15 minutes (from the 38th to 53rd) without scoring and in this time Ballingarry were after scoring 5 points to cut the lead in half. 1-14 to 0-12. Bill Walsh was the man to step up to the plate and put us 6 ahead with seven minutes to go and it looked like we were now going to drive on.
However, Ballingarry pointed two frees (both Seanie Cahill) and got a goal through Ciaran Shelly in the next 3 minutes to leave the score 1-15 to 1-14 with four minutes to go.
We now looked in serious trouble with all the momentum with Ballingarry but we fought hard and no team scored until injury time when Bill Walsh pointed in the 63rd minute from play.
When that point went over lesser teams would have folded but in typical Ballingarry fashion, they fought back. They charged at us with everything they had and a ball broke around 13 yards out to Ciaran Shelly who looked to be in acres of space and 1 on 1 with Tom Kennedy in the Swan goal with the full goal to aim at. Was it going to be the opposite of our 2012 South Semi Final vs Killenaule in Fethard?
Every hurler can look back over their career when they’re finished and think about the important scores they got, important saves they have made or the important blocks they got in. Alan (Thunder) O’ Sullivan got a block tonight that will be at the top of his list whenever he calls it a day. He came from nowhere with a full stretch diving block on Shelly.
From the resulting clearance substitute Alan ‘P’ Ryan made a super catch over Danny Fitzgerald and turned him and headed towards the Ballingarry goal. He was dragged down. O’ Hanlon stepped up and put the ball over the bar to put us 3 points ahead.
Within 30 seconds of the restart, Keith Delahunty blew the final whistle and Swan booked their place in the South Senior Hurling Final. Full Time Score 1-17 to 1-14.
When things aren’t going right on the field and the opposition are piling on the pressure you need players to stand up and be counted. Tonight we got that. We had super performances from Darren Fahey, Alan O’ Sullivan, James Waters, Danny O’ Hanlon and Gerry Walsh. Kevin Lanigan was also a colossus at centre back for the last ten minutes.
Well done to Tom, Ray, Mark & John and all the Carrick Swan Senior hurlers tonight. We’re back in a South Senior Hurling Final and we now have another chance to bring home our 23rd South Senior Hurling title.