The prevailing fog which distressed so many Irish soccer followers recently failed to infuriate another set of supporter who witnessed a historic achievement for Ballinlough on Sunday.
The reds collected their second league title in successive years when they beat Moynalvey in the Meath F.L. Div. 2 final replay at Kilberry. The original venue, Pairc Tailteann, was completely shrouded in fog, so quick thinking officals swithed the fixture a few miles out the road.
If Ballinlough had any inhibitions about the new pitch they certainly didn’t show it in the first quarter as they raced into a 1-4 to 0-2 lead. But Moynalvey, without Paddy Kelly, woke from their slumber, raised the physical stakes and pushed their opponents to the limits and a dramatic finish in which Hugh Mc Donnell scored a late goal to secure victory.
It was an exciting match perhaps never matching the standards of the drawn encounter, but full of bite and good scores. Three goals is enough for any defense to concede and the mistakes which lead to them proved to be Moynalvey’s downfall. Ciaran O’ Brien grabbed the first, a thundering drive from 10 meters after Gary Mc Donnell had his kick blocked. It gave Ballinlough a well deserved lead and by the 20th minute O’ Brien, Mc Donnell, Francis Tunney and Jody Devine had increased their side’s advantage in a period of total dominance. Devine’s speed, coupled with the youngest Mc Donnell’s powerful play against Liam Harnan, were significant factors in the reds charge, but they lost their way for the remainder of the half and a classic Moynalvey goal got them back into the picture. Midfielders Aidan Crickley and John Ennis were involved, the latter supplying the pass to Brendan Melia who first-timed over Tommy Smith.
Martin Mc Donnell had earlier missed a chance to send Ballinlough further ahead when his rasping shot was blocked by Willie Tyrrell and the big full-forward could have made more of a Philip O’ Brien centre just before the break. Nevertheless they retired 1-5 to 1-4 in front after Cathal Sherdian scored the first of his three points.
Sherdian was in action again after the break with a point from an acute angle, but Ballinlough struck with their second killer blow from Martin Mc Donnell. Tyrrell fumbled a Hugh Mc Donnell centre and his brother had the easiest of tasks. Moynalvey’s reply was swift, orchestrated by their best player Adrian O’ Halloran, who posed the greatest threat to the opposing defense. His 35th minute point preceded a fine long range effort from Crickley and suggested that the second Ballinlough goal was only a minor setback. The impressive Sherdian had his side on equal terms with another point which was tipped over by ‘kepper Smith, before Hugh Mc Donnell edged Ballinlough in front again.
Liam Harnan switched to midfield in a bid to extract a late score, but the Moynalvey backs were caught stranded and a move which started with full-back Gerry Mc Namee, who weathered the storm brilliantly, finished in style with Hugh Mc Donnell lobbing Tyrrell.
The result didn’t do justice to Paul Harnan, O’ Halloran, Ennis, Crickley and Sherdian, but Ballinlough’s better balance and fitness told. Devine was exceptional and with so much support coming from Mc Namee, Vincent Ryan, Ciaran O’ Brien and Martin and Hugh Mc Donnell it’s no wonder they’re so often referred to as the “coming team”.
Ballinlough: T Smith, M Tuite, G Mc Namee, D Mulally, V Ryan, P O’ Brien, P Lynch, D Lynch, F Higgins, C O’ Brien (1-1), G Mc Donnell (0-1), J Devine (0-2), F Tunney (0-1), M Mc Donnell (1-0), H Mc Donnell (1-1). Sub: R Lydon for Tuite.