Ballygunner manager Darragh O’Sullivan thought their opening quarter was as good as they’ve played in any of their eight in a row county final wins. Photo: Inpho/Ryan Byrne.
CO. SHC FINAL: BALLYGUNNER V ROANMORE: REACTION: DARRAGH O’SULLIVAN
As the Ballygunner players belted out another rendition of ‘Red Is the Rose’, manager Darragh O’Sullivan passionately declared that their dominance is good for the county.
43 GAMES UNBEATEN
The Gunners are now only one title away from matching the record jointly held by Erins Own and Mount Sion. The men in red and black are 43 games unbeaten in Waterford, a record stretching back to June 23, 2015.
“People are saying that it’s not good for Waterford hurling us winning eight in a row. I think it’s brilliant for Waterford hurling because we’re pushing the standard every single year. It’s up to the other clubs to go back, push that standard, look at their juvenile set-ups, get their structures right and push it from there. Not this lazy analysis and trying to say that it’s good for Waterford hurling if Ballygunner are beaten. I honestly think that Waterford are closer to winning an All Ireland senior championship now than they ever were. That maybe is something to do with what we’re doing. The lazy analysis will say it’s not good for Waterford hurling, I don’t believe that. If you look at our performances in Munster over the last eight years, we’ve won one Munster title. If we were winning Munster title after Munster title, you might say ‘What’s going on here?’ The reality is we’re at a level where we’re challenging in Munster absolutely. If we weren’t challenging in Munster and if we weren’t winning county titles in Waterford, where would the other teams be? Would that be good for Waterford hurling if they weren’t able to challenge? I honestly think that we have four or five teams in Waterford now that can really challenge at Munster club level. That’s where it is. That’s the analysis that should be there rather than the lazy analysis, ‘It’s not good for Waterford hurling Ballygunner winning eight in a row.’ That’s short-sighted in my opinion.”
‘AS GOOD A QUARTER AS WE’VE PLAYED’
This county final was all over at the first water break. Against a stiff breeze, Ballygunner built up a ten-point lead. “The first quarter performance that we had there was probably as good a quarter as we’ve played in eight years,” admitted O’Sullivan. “That’s the reality of what happened there. They were phenomenal in that first quarter. Playing against a strong wind and we were ten points up. That’s what we were looking for from the lads. We were looking for a reaction, we were looking for the work rate. That’s what we brought to that first quarter. Roanmore maybe didn’t have the experience to deal with that first quarter and we had. That possibly was the difference. The lads, I’m sick of saying it, are a phenomenal bunch of people. They just continue to drive on and drive on and drive on. There were five lads that started today that didn’t play the Munster final three years ago. A third of the team has evolved because of injury and lads retiring. That’s what we have to keep doing, keep evolving and keep adding new players to the set-up. I’m thrilled for them because I know how hard they work. That’s what it comes down to.”
The biggest cheer of the day came when man of the match Dessie Hutchinson was substituted on 58 minutes with 1-9 in his account. “He was phenomenal. I just can’t wait to go home and watch the match and watch Dessie’s performance. Some of the scores he got today were out of the top drawer. I still think he’s improving and that’s the scary thing about that guy.”
The Ballygunner players celebrate with the News & Star Cup after Sunday’s eight in a row Co. SHC Final win over Roanmore in Walsh Park. Photo: Maurice Hennebry.