Ballycran kings in royal victory

Ballycran kings in royal victory

2 October 2019

BALLYCRAN retained the Jeremiah McVeagh Cup in style in front of large crowd at Ballygalget on Sunday afternoon.

Portaferry, who have now lost the last three finals, were hoping to dethrone their arch rivals, but it wasn’t to be as Ballycran ran out comfortable enough winners.

Brendan Coleman gave Portaferry an unbelievable start when he flashed the sliotar past a helpless  Stephen Keith in goal inside the first minute.

Ballycran knuckled down to the job in hand and sheer hard work from midfielders Scott Nicholson and Phelim Savage helped swing the pendulum their way.

Corner forward Stuart Martin registered Ballycran’s first point in the fourth minute before a Conor O’Prey free eased Portaferry into a 1-1 to 0-1 lead by the sixth minute.

Conor Woods (0-2) and O’Prey swapped scores before two quick points from the former had the sides level with 10 minutes gone.

Another O’Prey free handed the initiative back to Portaferry, but Colm McManus answered that by taking two scores of his own for Ballycran.

This was to be the full forward’s last piece of action as he was then red-carded in the 22nd minute. Coleman and Gerard Hughes exchanged scores in the aftermath of McManus’ red card before Nicholson gave Ballycran a 0-9 to 1-4 lead after 25 minutes. Two O’Prey frees levelled matters in the 31st minute, but the drama was still unfolding.

A Martin goal in the 31st minute put Ballycran into a 1-9 to 1-6 lead and a point from Phelim Savage increased the lead to four points just before the break.

To make matters even worse for Portaferry, they had O’Prey sent off after picking up a second yellow card.

Ballycran now had the bit between their teeth and scores after the break from Scott Nicholson (0-2) and Phelim and Liam Savage had the McKenna Park side almost out of sight.

Martin and Woods increased Ballycran’s lead to nine points before Portaferry hit back with scores from Coleman (0-2) and Conor Mageean to leave the score at 1-16 to 1-10 with 10 minutes remaining.

Another Coleman point left five in it, but Ballycran simply pulled away and claimed the SHC title for the 26th time. 

Ballycran’s Mick Braniff, who managed the side with Gary Savage, was more than pleased with the way his charges went about the job.

“It’s unbelievable. This team has never put back-to-back championships and then all you have from everyone is that they are one-hit wonders, they’ll get a championship this year, but sure next year it’ll not happen,” he said.

“They haven’t the heart for it, but they showed the heart they have. They are a serious team and there are some serious players in it. I think last year was a nervy final. We have a great panel of players, we’ve some tremendous hurlers over the years, they’ve hurled for Down, they’ve hurled for Ulster,” he added.

“I think at club level they under-achieved for a lot of years, but this year I think they showed their dominance. We were immense from 1-15,” he enthused.

Ballycran will now face Dunloy in the Ulster Club Championship on Sunday, October 27.