Murphy points the way to Bunclody's second title
HWH-Bunclody 1-16 Ballyhogue 1-9
The accuracy of sharp-shooter Mark Murphy propelled HWH-Bunclody to a seven-point victory over a gallant Ballyhogue outfit in the EEW and Plumbing ACHL Division 6 final in St. Patrick's Park on Tuesday.
The attacker was certainly in the mood, showing radar-like precision from play and placed balls to help the Half Way House boys to what was ultimately a comfortable victory.
It was nip and tuck for the opening quarter, with the sides level at four points apiece midway through the opening period, but Bunclody scored five of the next six to give themselves some breathing space at the break (0-9 to 0-5).
Ballyhogue did manage to reduce the deficit to just two points when Ronan Minogue hit the back of the net early in the second-half, but Bunclody remained unruffled and were quickly back in the ascendancy when Edward Dunbar grabbed a goal at the other end. They never looked like loosening their grip thereafter.
Two well-struck frees from Ronan Minogue had Ballyhogue ahead by 0-2 to 0-1 inside five minutes, with the evergreen Mickey Connors replying, however that was the only time they had their noses in front in the game.
Mark Murphy (free), Mickey Connors and Cathal Doyle then split the posts, with Mick Parker and Hughie O'Neill replying for Ballyhogue, to leave the sides deadlocked after 15 minutes, but Bunclody then put their foot on the pedal.
Mark Murphy certainly found his stride, reeling off four points before the break, with Ronan Roberts adding to their tally and the solitary Ballyhogue response coming from a Ronan Minogue free.
When Mark Murphy slotted over a free shortly after the switch of ends to stretch the advantage to five, Ballyhogue looked to be really up against it, but they grabbed a lifeline when Ronan Minogue won possession and fired past a sea of bodies to find the left-hand corner of the net.
Mark Murphy steadied the Bunclody ship two minutes later when firing over a '65, and they were well and truly back in safe waters when Edward Dunbar had the green flag waving moments later.
Murphy delivered a handpass to the inrushing Dunbar, and he made no mistake, calmly stroking the ball beyond Paddy Carr.
A stylish point from the right from Murphy gave Bunclody a seven-point lead, and try as they might Ballyhogue couldn't bridge the gap.
Shane Byrne and Mark Murphy swapped points from frees, before lively substitute Peter Kelly fired over after a Ronan Minogue '65 came back off the post.
Ballyhogue pressed extremely hard to grab the goal they needed to give themselves any semblance of hope of staging a fightback, but Peter Kelly, Shane Byrne and Shane Doyle all saw their efforts thwarted by a very determined winners' defence.
They did add a couple more points through Nick Doyle and Peter Kelly but Bunclody were always able to keep them at arm's length, with Mark Murphy arrowing over two points either side of an eye-catching long-range score from captain Enda Slevin.
The victors were following in the footsteps of their first string, winners of the Division 2 title.
HWH-Bunclody: Jamie Farrell; Paddy Dunbar, Diarmuid Crean, Paul Jackman; Thomas O'Neill, Enda Slevin (capt., 0-1), Matthew Byrne; John Atkinson, Martin O'Connor; John Connors, Mark Murphy (0-11, 5 frees, 1 '65), Edward Dunbar (1-0); Cathal Doyle (0-1), Ronan Roberts (0-1), Mickey Connors (0-2). Subs. - Michael Connors for J. Connors, Stephen Kavanagh for Mickey Connors, Darren Murphy for Doyle, Stephen Finn for Roberts, Seán Taylor for Murphy, also Podge Kehoe, Niall Kelly, James Crean, Conor Hendrick, Jamie John Murphy, James Taylor, Adrian Hendrick, Michael Connors, Josh Martin, Mickey Furlong, Francis Reck, Conor Thorpe.
Ballyhogue: Paddy Carr; James Parle, Seán Rochford (capt.), Shane Fenlon; Shane Doyle, Eddie Galavan, Nick Doyle (0-1); Hughie O'Neill (0-1), Shane Byrne (0-1 free); Graham Parker, Mick Parker (0-1), Ronan Minogue (1-3 frees); Mick Condon, Denis Leacy, Dylan Dalton. Subs. - Ger Cullen for Ring, Peter Kelly (0-2) for Dalton, Fionn Rochford for Fenlon, Seán Ring for M. Parker, also Enda Minogue, Kevin Ring, Cian Rodgers, Conor Rossiter, David Byrne, Enda Byrne, Conor Long, Liam Rossiter, Shane Roche, Dean Doyle, Ciarán Walsh.
Referee: Martin Quigley (Rathnure).