Sport

Stunning second half comeback from Ballygunner

All Ireland champions Ballygunner fought back from six points down against Na Piarsaigh in a thrilling Munster club semi final at the Gaelic Grounds this evening (2-20 to 2-15).

Darragh O'Sullivan's men trailed 2-11 to 1-8 after 27 minutes but a goal from Patrick Fitzgerald proved the catalyst for a stunning second half comeback. Man of the match Pauric Mahony shot thirteen points for the winners (seven from play). Midfielder Conor Sheahan struck four from play (two in each half) while Peter Hogan put in a massive shift.

Na Piarsaigh laid down the gauntlet to the Gunners in the first quarter. They tackled in numbers and led 6-2 after 13 minutes. Kevin Downes put over three frees while Limerick attacker Peter Casey landed two from play. Patrick Fitzgerald opened Ballygunner's account in the eighth minute.

On 14 minutes, Fitzgerald again got out in front and supplied Dessie Hutchinson who hammered the sliotar to the bottom corner. Downes replied immediately for the Sky Blues.

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Back to back Pauric Mahony points saw Ballygunner take the lead for the first time on 18 minutes. Two minutes later, Will O'Donoghue found his midfield partner Keith Dempsey and he buried the ball to the far corner of the net (1-7 to 1-5). Mahony sent over his third from play in response.

On 26 minutes, corner back Jerome Boylan burst forward, found David Dempsey who offloaded to Conor Boylan. A bullet from close range beat Stephen O'Keeffe. Will Henn added his third from play as the home side went in 2-11 to 1-9 ahead after a cracking first half.

Mahony reduced the deficit to a goal early in the second period. Peter Casey then struck his third from distance. On 40 minutes, Patrick Fitzgerald found the bottom corner of the Na Piarsaigh cobwebs. Mahony then levelled matters at 2-13 apiece. His tenth of the evening, from a tricky free, edged the Gunners in front.

At the other end, Conor Boylan advanced on goal and blasted over the bar. As the game entered the last quarter, Philip Mahony picked out Conor Sheahan and he slotted his third point. The Ballygunner number eight tagged on another from 65 metres (2-16 to 2-14). Downes and Casey missed chances for the hosts. Ronan Power extended Ballygunner's advantage to three.

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Na Piarsaigh lost All Ireland winning full back Mike Casey to injury with six minutes left. Three late Mahony points sealed victory for the Waterford champions. They will face Ballyea in the provincial final on December 3.

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