Purple patch proves crucial
Dunbrody’s flourish secures 50th anniversary crown
A ten-minute purple patch at the start of the second-half propelled Dunbrody Gaels to what was ultimately a convincing victory in the 50th Jim Byrne Cup final played in a chilly St. Patrick's Park on Sunday.
Dunbrody Gaels 5-9 Ballinastragh Gaels 3-4
The Horeswood and St. James' combination outfit looked like they had it all to do at half-time, trailing by 2-4 to 1-1 as the sides switched ends, although they did have the aid of the stiff breeze at their backs for the second period.
Any doubts about their ability to claw back that six-point deficit were swiftly dispelled after the re-start though, as they quickly scored 2-6 without reply to take a stranglehold on the contest.
Jamie Wallace was to the fore in that period of Dunbrody Gaels supremacy, scoring one goal and providing the assist for the other, as well as floating over a sublime line ball from the whitewash on the right.
Playing with the wind, Ballinastragh Gaels needed to begin the game brightly, and they did just that, registering 1-1 in the opening five minutes.
Seán Forde popped over a free to settle the nerves, and moments later Steven Mordaunt gathered a pass from Stephen Neville and unleashed a powerful shot that rattled the back stanchion.
The Dunbrody Gaels response was swift, however, and Jamie Wallace had the green flag waving at the other end in the seventh minute when he applied the finish off the ground after James Fitzgerald had steered the ball into his path.
Ballinastragh Gaels built up a three-point advantage by the 18th minute (1-4 to 1-1), with Steven Mordaunt (two) and Seán Forde finding the range and Seán Nolan replying, and the north county side finished the half on a high with Caleb Murphy angling his shot to the right-hand corner of the net to give them a six-point cushion at the interval.
However, Dunbrody Gaels had a real fire in their bellies on the resumption and rapidly turned the game on its head.
Quickfire frees from Seán Nolan and Jamie Myler left the minimum between the sides, and three minutes in Jamie Wallace gathered a Nolan pass and rifled a left-footed drive to the roof of the net to get their noses in front.
Ballinastragh went agonisingly close to garnering an instant response, but Steven Mordaunt saw his stinging shot well saved by goalkeeper Aaron Mythen and within seconds Dunbrody grabbed a three-pointer at the other end.
Jamie Wallace gathered possession on the left and fired a shot across the face of goal, with the alert Dylan Whitty sliding in to touch the ball over the line.
Two points from Seán Nolan, a Jamie Wallace line ball and a fine long-range point on the run from Jamie Myler stretched the lead to six, but Ballinastragh plundered a goal midway through the half to get themselves right back in the contest.
Conor Hughes lofted a ball into the danger zone and Patrick O'Connor gathered possession, wriggled free and placed a shot beyond Mythen. Game on!
Ballinastragh Gaels battled hard to stage an unlikely fightback against the elements and with nine minutes remaining Stephen Neville saw his effort blocked by the goalkeeper.
However, their brave effort petered out and Dunbrody Gaels finished on a high with substitute Nigel Dunne pouncing for two late goals to put a gloss on the scoreline.
His first came when he gathered possession and finished with aplomb after a Jack Kehoe effort at a point had fallen short and he sprinkled the icing on the cake in injury time, fisting the ball to the back of the net.
Dunbrody Gaels: Aaron Mythen; Eamon O'Sullivan (joint capt.), David Murphy; Shane Walsh, Jack Kehoe, Danny Byrne; Jamie Myler (0-3, 1 free), Conor Dalton; Darragh Kent, James Fitzgerald, Seán Nolan (0-4, 2 frees); Jamie Wallace (joint capt., 2-2, 0-1 line ball, 0-1 free), Dylan Whitty (1-0). Subs. - Seán Costello for Dalton, James Walsh for Kent, Martin Kinsella for Walsh, Darragh Kent for S. Walsh, Joe O'Sullivan for Costello, Nigel Dunne (2-0) for E. O'Sullivan, Shane Walsh for Nolan, Seán Hunt for Fitzgerald, also Dean Roberts, Danny Nolan, Cathal Mernagh, Eoin Whitty.
Ballinastragh Gaels: Garbhan Finn; Billy Kavanagh (capt.), Patrick O'Connor (1-0); Ben Morris, Cathal O'Reilly, James Shannon; Seán Forde (0-2, 1 free), Seán Bardon; Stephen Neville, Conor Hughes, Paudie Hughes; Steven Mordaunt (1-2), Caleb Murphy (1-0). Subs (not used): Robert Murphy, Seán Geoghegan, Liam McCarthy, Ryan Gibney, Rian Fealey, Jason Bolger, Paddy Darcy, Ben O'Connor.
Referee: Aidan O'Brien (Cloughbawn).