Double dream still alive
Gusserane kept their dreams of a double very much alive as they ended the hopes of Bannow-Ballymitty in their Junior hurling championship semi-final in Cushinstown on Sunday.
Gusserane 0-15 Bannow-Ballymitty 1-9
Gusserane looked the sharper side throughout, and although Mark Rossiter contributed almost half their tally from placed balls, there was greater variety to their play and they posed more of a threat going forward.
A haul of 1-6 from free-taker Pat Fitzharris kept Bannow-Ballymitty in the hunt, but at times they were living off scraps and simply didn't create enough up front.
When Fitzharris buried a penalty in the 17th minute it gave them a 1-2 to 0-2 advantage, but they couldn't build on the breakthrough and Gusserane calmly and assuredly pointed their way ahead by half-time.
Mark Rossiter signalled his free-taking ability with just a minute on the clock when he confidently fired over, but Art Sweetman cancelled it out within a minute after being found in space by Kieran Butler.
Rossiter and Pat Fitzharris then exchanged frees before Bannow-Ballymitty got a major boost midway through the half.
After Kieran Butler had seen two efforts on goal blocked, referee David O'Leary awarded a penalty, which Fitzharris converted with aplomb to give them a three-point advantage.
Gusserane weren't rattled though, and they picked off five points on the trot, with Mark Rossiter landing a hat-trick of frees, Seán Ryan slotting over a fine point on the turn, and Liam Dillon adding a booming long-range score.
Pat Fitzharris stopped the rot for Bannow-Ballymitty by converting two frees, either side of a Mark Rossiter placed ball, to leave the half-time score 0-8 to 1-4 in favour of Gusserane.
Another Fitzharris free drew Bannow-Ballymitty level within three minutes of the resumption but Gusserane quickly assumed full control and sauntered to a 0-15 to 1-7 lead with 60 minutes on the clock.
Mark Rossiter added one more free to his first-half tally of six, county Minor Mark O'Neill and substitute Darragh Doyle contributed two points apiece, while Páraic Conway and Seán Ryan also got in on the act in an impressive team performance.
Two frees from Pat Fitzharris kept Bannow-Ballymitty just about in touch, and when Fitzharris (free) and Micheál Murphy knocked over points all of a sudden there was a possibility that a result that seemed out of reach could be pulled out of the fire.
However, time ran out on the spirited fightback and Gusserane now have two county finals to look forward to, while Bannow-Ballymitty must turn their full focus to the big ball game and their replay against Ballyhogue at the weekend.
Gusserane: Micheál Ryan; Paul Wall, Kenneth Cahill, Jack O'Connor; Liam Dillon (0-1), Shane Cullen, James Redmond; Adrian Redmond, Mark Rossiter (0-7 frees); Mark O'Neill (0-2), Graeme Cullen, John Roche; Páraic Conway (0-1), Fintan Ryan, Seán Ryan (0-2). Subs. - Shane Doyle for J. Redmond, Darragh Doyle (0-2) for Roche.
Bannow-Ballymitty: John Sinnott; John Mernagh, Pádraig Barden, Art Murphy; Mark Wallace, Niall Murphy, John O'Leary (0-1); Conor Furlong, David Currid; Nicky Doyle, Art Sweetman (0-1), Pat Fitzharris (1-6, 0-6 frees, 1-0 pen.); Micheál Murphy (0-1), Kieran Butler, Gary Morton. Subs. - Pádraig McCormack for O'Leary, Darragh Murphy for Morton, Robert Mageean for Butler.
Referee: David O'Leary (Rathnure).