Sandwiched between two one-sided affairs in the ‘A’ and ‘C’ deciders, it was the ‘B’ Final between Graiguecullen and Ballylinan Glenmore that proved to be the real spectacle in O’Moore Park on Saturday afternoon as the Graigue men survived a spirited comeback to snatch a thrilling win thanks in no small part to the influence of the impressive Luke Hand.
Hand grabbed two goals in the first five minutes to leave his side looking on course for a routine win but once Ballylinan Glenmore finally got off the mark midway through the opening half they gradually chipped in with the scores that meant that the second half was a hugely exciting and close-run affair.
Hand’s brace was followed by three fine points from James Hurley that left Ballylinan lagging some way behind but two late goals in that blistering first half ensured that there was only five between the sides at the interval. The first goal was a super move with Kevin Byrne’s inch-perfect pass finding Kieran Kidd and he made no mistake by firing into the roof of Gerard Kiernan’s net.
Kidd then turned provider a minute later as he did brilliantly to retrieve a loose ball and he laid it off to Craig Davis who fired a low shot across goal to leave Graigue wondering where this comeback had come from.
After the restart Ballylinan flew out of the blocks against a Graigue side that looked a little lost in the face of the rejuvenated Ballylinan Glenmore men. Within ten minutes the sides were all square after Daniel and Ciaran Comerford hit a point apiece before a third Ballylinan goal from Caomhan Brennan set up a thrilling finale.
Dane Lyons fired Graigue back into the lead with a lovely solo effort but again Ballylinan hit back, this time it was Ciaran Comerford again who sent over his third of the afternoon to restore parity with seven minutes remaining. The large crowd buzzed in excitement as the sides scrapped manfully for every ball and with nerves creeping in so too did the mistakes.
Six minutes passed without a score at either end before Luke Hand, the man that started the ball in motion calmly stepped up to fire a stoppage time free straight over the bar, and with Ballylinan Glenmore throwing everything they had at Graigue Dean Lyons broke free and after running for over sixty yards he fired a shot across goal and into the net to make sure of the win in a tremendous final.
SCORERS - Graiguecullen: Luke Hand 2-3 (0-3 frees), Dane Lyons 1-1, James Hurley 0-3, Sean Farrell 0-1; Ballylinan-Glenmore: Caomhan Brennan, Craig Davis and Kieran Kidd 1-0 each, Ciaran Comerford 0-3, Daniel Comerford 0-1.
GRAIGUECULLEN: Gerard Kiernan; Martin Doyle, Paul Mulready, Eoghan Cowan; Aaron Thompson, Liam Behan, Patrick Doyle; Jack Shannon, Luke Hovenden; Dean Malone, Luke Hand, Sean Farrell; James Hurley, Dane Lyons, Conor Hegan. Subs Used: Jack McDonald, Musa Sulaimoo, Neil Webb, Conor Dorgan, Dylan Hand.
BALLYLINAN-GLENMORE: Aaron Baldwin; James Murphy, Sean Donoghue, Conor Collins; David Walsh, Daniel Comerford, Seamus Lacey; Gavin La Comber, Caomhan Brennan; Craig Davis, Ciaran Fennessy, Kevin Byrne; Cialann Mulhall, Ciaran Comerford, Kieran Kidd.