AFTER an absence of seven years, Ballybrown will be back in the senior ranks of Limerick club hurling in 2013.
One of just four clubs in Limerick to win a Munster senior club championship, Ballybrown were relegated from the senior ranks in 2005.
They needed a few years to re-establish themselves and then reached two of the last three intermediate finals.
Defeat to South Liberties (2009) and Effin (2011) was their lot in the previous finals, but this Saturday they made it third time lucky.
And, they were certainly deserving winners in this Nick Grene Sportsgrounds Ltd county intermediate hurling championship final in Fitzgerald Park in Kilmallock.
From the throw-in they produced one of the hardest working performances ever seen by a Ballybrown side. It was this huge work ethic that saw them set the pace and never really allow Dromin-Athacca find their feet.
When they sides met in the round robin series, it was the men from south Limerick that emerged two points winners but on this occasion the Clarina based club dominated from the off to win 1-15 to 0-13.
They were 0-6 to no score ahead after nine when playing with the aid of the wind in the opening half.
Alan O’Connor, Shane Kenny, Kyle Loftus and Mikey Kiely all fired over in their early blitz.
With their half back line of Ian Burke, and Kenny brothers Richie and Des on top the supply of ball was always towards their attacking goal.
Indeed but for eight first half wides, Ballybrown could have been further ahead at the break.
As it was they led 0-10 to 0-4 at the interval.
It took Dromin-Athlacca 10-minutes to score and only found two points from play from Paul Neenan and Eoin O’Leary in the half.
At the other end Alan O’Connor notched six points in the half with all bar his first, coming from frees.
On the change of ends, Dromin-Athlacca restructured their team and began with a renewed vigour.
David Reidy had two points inside 90-seconds to cut the lead to a manageable four points as they found some form.
But then came the crucial moment.
Stephen Foster won possession in midfield and soloed forward. Thirty-five metres out and with no option for a pass, he attempted to score a point but his weak effort fell short. Mark Moynihan appeared to have the effort covered but somehow managed to allow it slip through his hands and into the net.
To add to the Dromin-Athlacca woes, the resulting puckout was sent straight back over the bar by Bryan Griffin.
All of a sudden the score was 1-11 to 0-7.
Ballybrown were only to score another four points in the remaining 25-minutes but it was sufficent.
Especially with Dromin-Athlacca failing to find a goal.
Five successive points between the 47th and 54th minutes did reduce the lead to 1-13 to 0-12 but two late points from sub Pat Hartigan set the Ballybrown celebrations in motion.
SCORERS – Ballybrown: Alan O’Connor 0-7 (6frees), Bryan Griffin 0-3, Stephen Foster 1-0, Pat Hartigan 0-2, Shane Kenny, Mikey Kiely, Kyle Loftus 0-1 each. Dromin-Athlacca: Paul Neenan (3frees) and David Reidy 0-4 each, Eoin O’Leary, James Kelleher, Brian Kelleher (free), David Mullins, Killan Liston 0-1 each.
BALLYBROWN – David Lyons; Roddy Burke, James Kennedy, Stephen O’Reilly; Ian Burke, Richie Kenny, Des Kenny (capt); Stephen Foster, James Hall; Alan O’Connor, Bryan Griffin, Kyle Loftus; Mikey Kiely, Shane Kenny, David Hall. Subs: Evan Loftus for David Hall (51mins), Pat Hartigan for Shane Kenny (56mins), Brian Quinn for James Hall (60mins).
DROMIN-ATHLACCA – Mark Moynihan; Donal Walsh, Brian Kelleher, Gearoid O’Leary; Peter Rya, Eoin Benson, Tom Breen; Michael Reidy, Eoin O’Connell; Paul Neenan, David Reidy, Gerard Kelleher; Tiernan Ryan (capt), Eoin O’Leary, James Kelleher. Sub: David Mullins for Tom Breen (34mins), Michael Kelleher for Eoin O’Connell (41mins), Killan Liston for Gerard Kelleher (43mins).
REFEREE – Shane Hourigan (St Marys Sean Finns).
See the weekend print edition of the Limerick Leader for full report and reaction