I.F.C. Final 1991 – Patrick’s outfoxed in Red Revolution!
(Taken from The Meath Chronicle 16/11/91)
Ballinlough…………....1-9 St. Patricks…………..0-11
Redemption in the form of last gasp finger tip save gave Ballinlough the IFC title they have vigorously pursued all year in Navan on Sunday.
Tommy Fox had been at fault for two Dunboyne goals in the semi-final, but when he was needed most he pulled off a brilliant save from St. Patrick’s Billy Jackson with just seconds remaining on the clock. It was enough to keep Ballinlough in front in what was a highly unusual match, spoiled to a degree by driving wind and rain. Yet there were moments, like that which administered a body blow to St. Patrick’s just before half-time. As Ciaran O’ Brien gained possession 50 meters out there seemed little immediate danger, but some clever inter changing between Vincent Ryan and Jody Devine put Devine in the clear and as he let fly from 20 meters its destination had already been decided.
A forlorn looking Johnny Sullivan picked the ball out of the net for only the third time this year and after playing with such a strong wind they were still only level (0-8 to 1-5) and had little time to do anything about it. It was a memorable moment on a cold afternoon and referee Kevin Campbell seemed spellbound by the movement, like the rest of us, that he discounted any hint of over carrying as Devine steadied to take the shot.
There were other moments in the match worth recalling – the long distance free-taking of Michael Mc Quillan and the tenacity of the St. Patrick’s defenders in the second-half when faced with a momentous task. Similarly the Ballinlough defense held out reasonably well in the first-half.
St. Patrick’s couldn’t have hoped for a better start and within 10 minutes they were 0-4 to 0-0 ahead, with Jackson hitting two frees and a point from play and Mc Quillan dropping over a massive free. Declan Russell and Jackson were playing havoc with their markers, but Ballinlough certainly weren’t overwhelmed. The standard of free-taking was impressive and Francis Tunney insured it was maintained with two good strikes against the wind. But the best point of the game came from Declan Lynch who embarked on a mighty solo run which took him 60 meters and drove low over the bar. It brought Ballinlough to within two points (0-3 to 0-5) of Pat’s, which was a fairly creditable performance against such a strong wind.
More was to follow. In the meantime Mc Quillan landed another long range free and Jackson pointed a shorter effort, but Devine and O’ Brien were getting through some work up front and winning frees which Tunney was happy to convert. Martin Mc Donnell drove another point, before Mc Quillan converted a massive ‘45’. St. Pat’s were finding the reds difficult to shake off and it was clear from the percentage of ball they were winning at midfield that Lebanon-based Martin Kirk was sorely missed.
As Devine’s missile hit the net, the Stamullen men knew they had a massive task, which grew in size when Tunney converted his fourth free. At the other end Jackson restored parity, but at the interval 1-6 to 0-9 was not a scenario they expected.
St. Pat’s were slow out for the second-half; or maybe Ballinlough were too anxious to get going again. They certainly looked anxious as they strove to put daylight between themselves and St. Pat’s, kicking a number of dreadful wides with the wind at their backs. Devine began to threaten and scored the first point of the half, but Cormac Sullivan was quick to close him down and he went on to give a tenacious display and was “man of the match” in the eyes of many. Ivan Curran was also a strong figure at center-back, but conversely Philip O’ Brien also had quite a match repeatedly breaking up Pat’s attacks at crucial times.
Pat’s defended as if their lives depended on it. It may have been a struggle to the ball into the opposing half as the wind grew wilder, but Mc Quillan was taking frees so well that he would have scored them into a hurricane and his last effort from 45 meters out was exceptional. It kept Ballinlough thinking. Lynch, Devine and Mc Donnell weren’t as prominent, while Noel and David Collier, Mc Quillan, Murphy, Curran and Jackson had the bit firmly between their teeth. They weren’t letting this one slip away so easily.
Amazingly, Ballinlough managed only two further points from Ciaran O’ Brien and Tunney. St. Pat’s got one less as Gerry Mc Namee, Michael Tuite and Derek Mullally had joined their half-back colleagues in closing gaps. Shane Mc Entee’s side had the belief to stay ahead. Pat’s threw everything at them in a grandstand finish. Peter Sullivan was badly wide from a free, while the reds got every break around their own goals. When Jackson got possession in the dying moments he could only see the net. It was a tremendous shot, matched only by a tremendous save.
Ballinlough celebrated and it won’t bother them that they played badly in the second-half. One point is as good as 20. They believed all year they could do it and they did.
Ballinlough: T Fox, M Tuite, G Mc Namee, D Mullally, F O’ Higgins, P O’ Brien, M Lynch, V Ryan, D Lynch (0-1), F Tunney (0-5), C O’ Brien (0-1), J Devine (1-1), G Mc Donnell, M Mc Donnell, R Lydon.