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How Ballygiblin were able to reach back-to-back All-Ireland Junior finals

Cork club Ballygiblin claimed the All-Ireland Club Junior Championship title on Saturday, one year after falling in the final

Ballygiblin were afforded a rare opportunity to go one better in the All-Ireland Club Junior Hurling Championship, one year after a final defeat.

The North Cork club fell at the final hurdle to Kilkenny side Mooncoin in 2022, but returned and sealed an All-Ireland crown on Saturday evening at Croke Park, defeating Easkey of Sligo, 1-16 to 0-11.

Ballygiblin captain Fionn Herlihy lifts the trophy.

Usually, teams cannot immediately return to the competition, as their county title that gave them the right to represent their county in the province and beyond would also promote them to a higher grade for the following season.

So how did Mark Keane and Co reach back-to-back All-Ireland finals?

As outling in The Echo, A renaming of competitions in Cork paved the way. In 2021, Ballygiblin were crowned Cork ‘Junior A’ champions.

For 2022, the old ‘Lower Intermediate’ grade was renamed as ‘Premier Junior’, meaning the grade into which they were promoted now offered a path into the Munster Junior Championship.

Their back-to-back county titles in different grades were impressive enough, but Ballygiblin’s feat of reaching successive All-Ireland finals as a county’s ‘junior champions’ is unlikely to be matched anytime soon.

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