Agony for Moyne Templetuohy as upright helps Ballina to first ever title

Clean Ireland Recycling County Intermediate hurling Final

Clean Ireland Recycling

County Intermediate hurling Final

Ballina 3-12

Moyne Templetuohy 0-20

The width of the post denied Moyne Templetuohy another bite at the county intermediate hurling title when a last gasp Martin Kelly free struck the upright right at the very death of a pulsating final in Semple Stadium on Sunday.

A superb intermediate final - the best for years in The Premier County - saw the mid men battle back from a desperate opening, to put themselves into a winning position. However, Ballina stuck to their task and pushed ahead in the closing stages to capture a sensational title - their first- and promotion to the senior grade.

Defeat was a enormously bitter pill for Moyne Templetuohy to swallow - they surely deserved another day out - but it wasn’t to happen for them. They more than matched Ballina in what was a very high tempo encounter - the perfect warm-up to the senior decider- with the ball flying from one end to the other with ferocious regularity. It was full blooded stuff with some great scores and with the sod perfect in Semple Stadium, the ball was flying from the off.

Unfortunately for Moyne Templetuohy, their undoing was a very slow start - that, and the fact that they conceded three goals and scored none. Goals win games they say - so it was in this decider.

Just when it seemed as though the Moyne Templetuohy lads had recovered from green flag assaults, they succumbed to another, and then another again. But, they kept on fighting and to their credit, despite the bodyblows, they were right in the game cominginto the final straight. How cruel it was that Martin Kelly’s last gasp free was the strike the up-right - Kelly had been unerring all day, and practically all season too, as he helped carry his side to the decider in the first place.

Yes, sport can be cruel, but truth be known had Ballina lost this one, as they did last years affair at the hands of Silvermines, they would have been kicking themselves. A number of gilt edged scoring opportunities went abegging as a time when they had the mid men on the rack - on other days they might not be so fortunate to emerge with silverware.

A goal after just 40 seconds from Thomas Collins settled Ballina immediately and they went on to lead by 1-4 to 0-1 at the end of the first quarter - David Hickey, Michael Breen (2) and Stephen O’Brien pointing for them, while Martin Kelly had the solitary mid score.

But, the Moyne Templetuohy lads didn’t panic and they slowly but surely worked their way back into the game. Points from Martin Kelly, Jack Fogarty, Diarmuid Fogarty and Kelly again helped them back into contention and by the time the interval break arrived they were just one in arrears - 1-7 to 0-9 - Diarmuid Fogarty, Simon Everard and John Hassett matching David Hickey and Domhnall McKeogh scores for Ballina.

The pace of the game was such that one wondered if the sides could keep it up for the second half - they did, and added to it also. Moyne Templetuohy hit the front with Martin Kelly and Diarmuid Fogarty points but Jerry O’Brien replied to level the game with a fine score. Then, sub Paul Maher shoved Moyne Templetuohy two in front with a quick brace, which was cancelled by a Michael Breen pair from placed balls.

The mid men had worked out a three point lead when Simon Everard, Diarmuid Fogarty and John Hasett came good with points, but they were rocked back on their heels when Stephen O’Brien got a 17th minute overhead touch on a Michael Breen sideline cut to rattle the net for the second time. Level game again.

Hugh Coughlan shoved Moyne Templetuohy in front again but Michael Breen struck a great point from distance to level. Martin Kelly again claimed the advantage but a third Ballina goal in the form of a TJ O’Connell effort in the 20th proved decisive.

Still Moyne Templetuohy battled with two Kelly points accounting for a Brian O’Connor effort for Ballina. The drama wasn’t over yet though. A last gasp free for Moyne Templetuohy from the 65 metre line under the Ardan Ui Chuinneain seemed to heading for a white flag. But, it tailed as it neared it’s destination and struck the upright to bounce away to safety - an earlier one had hit the upright and gone between the posts - the luck of the draw was not to be their lot second time round.

Ballina rightly celebrated a famous, narrowest of wins - their first. And, considering the number of wides they hit - 14 in total - they showed plenty of reason as to why they should be crowned champions. But, Moyne Templetuohy came oh so close and it was a sickening defeat for them in the final analysis. They came up just short and it will serve as little consolation to them that they contributed hugely to a superb game of hurling.

Ballina had fine performances on the day from Thomas Collins, Michael Breen, Stephen O’Brien, David Hickey and sub Brian Stritch while Jerry O’Brien worked hard at midfield. They used the ball well at times and did a lot of damage to Moyne Templetuohy with their forward division enjoying a lot of freedom. They didn’t always make the right decisions though and with ten second half wides to go along with their four in the first half , they could probably count themselves fortunate to have climbed the steps of Ardan Ui Riain to accept the cup. They won’t care how they won though and they now join the ranks of senior for 2014 - there will now be more senior teams in north Tipperary than in the whole of County Kilkenny. Go figure.

It was heartbreak for a Moyne Templetuohy side which had improved steadily all year. Their quest to return to senior ranks continues but they can take some heart from the fact that their opponents lost the intermediate title in 2012, but came back to claim it in 2013. The same can happen for Moyne Templetuohy if they employ the same level of hunger and desire witnessed on Sunday. The experience, bad an all as it might feel, will stand to them and they have the ability to bounce back. Liam Butler, John Coughlan, Martin Kelly, Diarmuid Fogarty and Simon Everard were very prominent while sub Paul Maher made a big impact when introduced for them.

Ballina: M McKeogh, D Kent, P Cosgrove, B McKeogh, K Cosgrove, T Collins 1-0, D McKeogh 0-1, J O’Brien 0-1, S McKeogh, S Stritch, M Breen 0-6, E Sheehy, D Hickey 0-2, S O’Brien 1-1, F Collins. Subs: C Maguire; B O’Connor 0-1; B Stritch; TJ O’Connell 1-0.

Moyne Templetuohy: E Kelly, J Moloney, J Coughlan, P Meade, R Larkin, L Butler, T Hassett, T Meade 0-1, J Bergin, J Fogarty 0-1, S Everard 0-2, J Hassett 0-1, M Kelly 0-8, H Coughlan 0-1, D Fogarty 0-4. Subs: N Russell; P Maher 0-2, D Kelly, C Everard, H Coughlan.

Referee: J O’Brien (Arravale Rvs).