Shane McGrath has recovered from injured which forced him out of the county final defeat. Photo: Bridget Delaney

Ballinahinch return to Munster fare

GAA: AIB Munster Club Junior Hurling Championship Semi-Final Preview

By Liam Hogan


Pairc Ui Rinn, Cork

Saturday, 18th November

Throw-in @ 1.30pm (E.T.)

Referee: Eamonn Stapleton (Limerick)

Ballinahinch return to Munster club action for the first time since the spring of 2003 when they take on St Catherine’s of Cork in the provincial junior hurling semi-final on Saturday.

It wasn’t their first journey in Munster after losing to Carrigtwohill in the 1995 final staged in Bruff in what was an un-official competition.

Eight years later, they were back after winning the county junior championship the previous autumn after they defeated Clonakenny, following a replay. On February 22nd, 2003, they secured an impressive 1-18 to 0-6 win over Geraldines of Waterford in the semi-final in Dungarvan.

Three weeks later the team, full of expectation, received a timely reminder that hurling is a fast game as Ballinhassig of Cork outgunned them with a 6-7 to 2-8 trouncing at Ballyagran. The Ballinhassig team included Martin Coleman, son of his famous father Martin who played in Cork’s three-in-a-row success from 1976-78, was in goal with Brendan O’Sullivan and Seanie McCarthy also involved.

The disappointing result did little to dampen what was a great period for the Ballinahinch men because they were back where they wanted to be in intermediate grade where they remained for twenty years until their relegation last year.

And so, they are back again as Tipperary’s representatives despite losing the county junior ‘A’ final to Clonoulty/Rossmore over a month ago. Ballinahinch are similar to St. Catherine’s who representing Cork off the back of defeat in their county final when they lost to a Robbie O’Flynn led Erin’s Own.

It is almost two decades since St Catherine’s last appeared in a Munster club game when they lost to Kiladangan in the intermediate quarter final in Nenagh. Denis Walsh, the former Cork corner back, was in action that year and he is still there in the guise of manager.

Ballinahinch will enter this game with a fully fit team, except for David Gleeson who is concentrating on rugby duties with Nenagh Ormond who are flying high in the All-Ireland League and are also in action on Saturday.

Word has it at St. Catherine’s acquitted themselves very well in the Cork championship but in the final against Erin’s Own their bid to salvage a seven-point deficit in the closing stages was not enough with Shane Cotter, Sean O’Donoghue, Eoin Davis and Oisin Fitzgerald getting scores. The final whistle came too late, and they came up just short on a 1-14 to 2-9 defeat.

Ballinahinch came short against Clonoulty/Rossmore but players like Shane McGrath, John Foley, the Kelly twins, Brian Keane, James Lynch, and Paddy Kelly will do all in their power to finish the year on a positive note.