Ballygunner are back in the Munster club Senior hurling Championship Final after edging out Ballyea from Clare in a rip-roaring semi-final at Walsh Park this afternoon in an enthralling 90 minutes of non-stop action.
The Clare champions held a three point lead at the interval, 1-9 to 0-9.
Pauric Mahony was on fire for the Gunners from both play and frees, but Ballyea also chipped in with some fine scores as Tony Kelly, Nially Deasy and Martin O’ Leary.
Niall Deasy netted the games opening goal two minutes before half-time as his one handed strike rattled the net past Stephen O’ Keeffe, with Ian Kenny replying with a long point for Ballygunner.
The visitors started the second half well with early scores from Tony Kelly, Niall Deasy and Gary Brennan as they pushed six points clear.
Ballygunner were given a huge boost as Conor Power continued his goal tally with a neat finish in the 39th minute.
Pauric Mahony continued to hit scores at ease and a superb effort in the 51st minute saw the Gunners regain the lead before Ballyea responded with a great score from Tony Kelly.
Brian O’ Sullivan regained the lead for Fergal Hartley’s charges and Pauric Mahony contined his scoring trend with another fine score (Gunners two up with six minutes remaining) before the Clare champions got their noses in front as Niall Deasy connected on a long delivery and the ball hit the back of Stephen O’ Keeffe’s net.
Martin O’ Leary and Pierce Lillis added further points and it looked as if Ballyea were on their way but there was to one last twist as Philip Mahony’s brilliant overhead strike flew into the net in a crowded penalty area to level up proceedings.
It ended 2-17 apiece at the end of normal time, as extra-time followed.
Niall Deasy had a brace of early points to push the Clare side in front with Pauric Mahony and Barry O’ Sullivan replying for the home side as the sides remained level at the end of the first period of extra-time, 2-20 apiece.
The sides were still level at the end of extra-time as a late Niall Deasy 65 forced an additonal extra-time period of ten minutes (2-23 each).
Fergal Hartley’s charges gained control in the final five minutes as Barry O’ Sullivan (who hit three from play), Pauric Mahony (who finished with 0-14) and Conor Sheehan hit scores as the Gunners prevailed after an enthralling 90 minutes of action, it finished BALLYGUNNER 2-26 BALLYEA 2-23 after double extra-time.
AIB Munster Club Senior Hurling Semi Final
Ballygunner (Port Láirge): 2-26(32)
Ballyea (An Clár): 2-23(29)
Congratulations to Ballygunner on a well fought and earned victory. They now advance to the Munster Club Final!
— Waterford GAA (@WaterfordGAA) November 4, 2018
For the third time in four seasons, Ballygunner will face Na Piarsaigh in the Munster Final in two weeks time.
Gunners boss Fergal Hartley admitted afterwards it was an epic battle.
Fergal says his side showed brilliant character, particularly after a disappointing opening half.
Fergal says Philip Mahony is one of the over under-rated players in the games.
Brilliant win for Ballygunner, 3rd Munster high-scoring battle they've won on Walsh Park over last 12 months after beating Thurles Sars and Sixmilebridge last season.
— Fintan O'Toole (@fotoole13) November 4, 2018