First Published Limerick Leader 08 December 2013
by Jerome O’Connell

LIMERICK junior hurling champions Feenagh-Kilmeedy were beaten 3-12 to 0-15 in this Sunday’s Munster club JAHC final by Waterford’s Ballysaggart.

Two goals within a three minute period at the start of the second half proved the winning of this provincial crown. Indeed, the Waterford side started both halves with a flurry of scores. They were 1-2 to 0-1 clear after seven minutes and by half time they led 1-8 to 0-9 despite playing against the wind in the first half. Feenagh-Kilmeedy showed great heart to battle back in the opening half after a nervous start. But ultimately they relied heavily on placed balls for scores – notching just five scores from play over the hour. At the other end of the field, Ballysaggart had a match winner in teenager Stephen Bennett. He was one of the stars of Waterford’s All-Ireland minor hurling win and in this final he scored 1-4 from play as well as four frees. His goal came after six minutes. Feenagh-Kilmeedy had to wit until the 10th minute for Jimmy O’Sullivan to have their first score from play. That left it 1-2 to 0-2 but it was soon 1-4 to 0-2. Then John O’Gorman had a fine score as Feenagh-Kilmeedy found some form. But the lead was once again stretched to 1-6 to 0-3 with 18-minutes played. Then came a purple patch for the west Limerick men with Diarmuid Coleman and Edward Murphy landing three successive scores from placed balls. Bennett hit back with successive points from play but Feenagh-Kilmeedy were not up to the intensity of the game and finished the half on top. The final three points of the half again came from Coleman and Murphy frees.

After settling into the final, Feenagh-Kilmeedy needed to dominate the early parts of the second half. But alas, the eventual winners struck for home with come vital goals. Feenagh-Kilmeedy had actually re-started brightly with Coleman (free) and John Lynch points to leave just a score between the teams. Then Ronan Walsh caught a long delivery and fired to the Feenagh-Kilmeedy net. Jimmy O’Sullivan hit back with then Shane Bennett crashed home their third goal from 20-metres. That left it 3-10 to 0-12 with just under 20-minutes to play. Only a goal could really have inspired Feenagh-Kilmeedy and they found Matty Meagher ultra secure in the Ballysaggart goal. Darragh Kiely and Edward Murphy (21-metre free) tried for goals but to no success. Sub John Nix helped reduced the lead and with seven minutes to play it was 3-10 to 0-15. But up stepped Bennett again to seal a merited first Munster club JAHC title for Waterford.

SCORERS: Feenagh-Kilmeedy: Diarmuid Coleman 0-6 (4frees, 2 ‘65), Edward Murphy 0-4 (4frees), Jimmy O’Sullivan 0-2, John O’Gorman, John Lynch, JOhn Nix 0-1 each. Ballysaggart: Stephen Bennett 1-8 (0-4frees), Shane Bennett 1-1, Ronan Walsh 1-0, Darren Meagher 0-2, Christy Murphy 0-1.

FEENAGH-KILMEEDY: Daniel Egan; James O’Regan, Liam Murphy, Nelius Irwin; Michael Bergin, Edward Murphy, John Gaffney; Donal Harrold, Gerard O’Gornan; Diarmuid Coleman, Peter Irwin, John O’Gorman; Liam Lynch, Jimmy O’Sullivan, Darragh Kiely. Subs: Brian Hannigan for Nelius Irwin (h-t), Patrick O’Regan for Gerard O’Gorman, inj (49mins), John Nix for Darragh Kiely (49mins), Dave O’Sullivan for Liam Lynch (58mins), Billy O’Sullivan for Peter Irwin (58mins).

BALLYSAGGART: Matty Meagher; Bobby Ryan, Kieran Fennessy, Daniel Devine; Barry Murphy, Eugene O’Brien, Cailean O’Gorman; Christy Murphy, Kieran Bennett; Shane Bennett, Darren Meagher, Kenneth Cahill; Ronan Walsh, Stephen Bennett, Tom Bennett. Subs: Michael Kearney for Ronan Walsh (57mins), Cathal Fitzgerald for Tom Bennett (60mins), Shane Meagher for Shane Bennett (60mins).

REFEREE: John O’Brien (Tipperary).